A foreign writer? A spy reporting on his hosts? A literary martian?  I liked this unusual triologism of George Eliot’s.  Clearly, who- or whatever he was, tales were circulating about him.  As I understand it, ‘whatnot’ in this context is an all-embracing ‘whatever’ suggesting the stories going about were mostly tosh and gossip.

Still the image of a pointy-headed intergalactic traveller with a quill and ink-well appeals.

‘There are stories going about him as a quill-driving alien, a foreign emissary, a whatnot.’

 

Source: George Eliot, Middlemarch (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 406

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