Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jan 15, 2007 in At TMV | 3 comments

Literary Quote of the Day: George Eliot


How many of us have labored through impossibly long and dense tomes in literature classes that are considered to be masterpieces? Or classics? Or classic masterpieces? And we just don’t get it?

I certainly put George Eliot’s “Middlemarch� (1871) in that category when I had to read it in a lit class. But when I picked it up years later, I found it to be beautifully constructed and written and, in fact, a rather intense parable for how society limited the role of women in Victorian times and in many instances still does today.

Eliot (1819-1880) was the pen name of Mary Anne Evans, who used the male name so that her works were taken seriously. In “Middlemarch� she interweaves the stories of families, friends and acquaintances in a fictional rural English town.

Among the character are Tertius Lydgate, a young doctor who dreams of making great medical advances while helping the poor of Middlemarch. He fells in love with the lovely but vain Rosamond Vincy and marries her.

An excerpt:

“[Lydgate] felt himself becoming violent and unreasonable as if raging under the pain of stings: he was ready to curse the day he came to Middlemarch. . . . His marriage seemed an unmitigated calamity; and he was afraid of going to Rosamond before he had vented himself in this solitary rage, lest the mere sight of her should exasperate him and make him behave unwarrantably. There are episodes in most men’s lives in which their highest qualities can only cast a deterring shadow over the objects that fill their inward vision: Lydgate’s tender-heartedness was present just then only as a dread lest he should offend against it, not as an emotion that swayed him to tenderness. For he was very miserable. Only those who know the supremacy of the intellectual life – the life which has a seed of ennobling thought and purpose within it – can understand the grief of one who falls from that serene activity into the absorbing soul-wasting struggle with worldly annoyances.�