WHAT IS IT ABOUT MIDDLEMARCH?
George Eliot’s take on fatuous female authors (and more) in this article about Eliot’s goodness.
“The author then describes the many literary offenses these fatuous females commit. They are incompetent at verisimilitude: ‘Their intellect seems to have the peculiar impartiality of reproducing both what they have seen and heard, and what they have not seen and heard, with equal unfaithfulness.’ They are as unoriginal, stylewise, as teenage girls cozily wearing one another’s clothes: ‘The lover has a manly breast; minds are redolent of various things; hearts are hollow.’ They have the audacity to pronounce on important matters, as if ‘an amazing ignorance, both of science and of life, is the best possible qualification for forming an opinion on the knottiest moral and speculative questions.’ Such allegations continue apace, until, eventually, the author provides a Silly Lady Novel recipe: ‘Take a woman’s head, stuff it with a smattering of philosophy and literature chopped small, and with false notions of society baked hard, let it hang over a desk a few hours every day, and serve up hot in feeble English when not required.’”
MIDDLEMARCH AND ME
“In the subsequent decades, just about every love affair I had was refracted through Middlemarch.”
MIDDLEMARCH REVIEW FROM 1873
“Eliot’s maxim–“Know thyself and things in general”–she has taken profoundly to heart, and as a result we have a body of what might be called sympathetic erudition such as no one else ever dreamed of. History, science, art, literature, language, she is mistress of. Upon all these fields she draws. Human life, however, is her interest; in this all her studies centre. Her observation is always beginning, never ending. Certainly if writers are divided as Goethe somewhere suggests into those who are born to say some one thing, to produce some single literary flower and die, and those whose life is one constant development, like that of Nature herself, in which education and production go on side by side to the end, George Eliot would be included in the latter class.”
3 responses to ““The only effect I ardently long to produce by my writings is that those who read them should be better able to imagine and to feel the pains and the joys of those who differ from themselves.””
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OK, Adrienne, you’ve convinced me: I must read Middlemarch. I know, I know, you’re shaking your head – “how is it she’s never read it?” I’m shaking my own head. Thanks for a really terrific and unusual promotion.
I can be quite good at promoting others if I set my mind to it! LOL. Don’t feel too bad. It took me a long while before I decided to read it. 🙂