In his book George Eliot, Walter Allen quotes W. J. Harvey as saying, whilst comparing Daniel Deronda to Anna Karenina, "One cannot imagine George Eliot encompassing either Levin's simple joy at being alive and in love or the complex intensities of Anna Karenina's passion". He goes on to write "In the same way, Middlemarch is not only much smaller, much more restricted, than War and Peace as a panorama of life in history, it also lacks entirely the simple, sensuous, almost animal joy in being alive that permeates Tolstoy's novel."
Later he writes:
"... V. S. Pritchett has said, 'There is no real madness in George Eliot', meaning by madness the sense of the forces of the irrational, the daimonic, the incomprehensible in men's lives. This is to say that, for all her profound reverence, she is never a religious novelist; and the reality of sexual passion is also foreign to her. Her view of life was unswervingly and all the time a moral view, and nothing that existed outside the moral view, that could not be netted by it, existed for her. The loftiness of the moral view she held cannot prevent us from thinking that there is a great deal in life that cannot be adequately explained or illuminated by it. The world is not primarily, as it too often seems in her novels, a gymnasium for the exercise and development of the moral faculties. Her picture of life, then, is more limited than her most fervent admirers are always willing to admit."