By George Eliot
I finally finished Middlemarch. Middlemarch is beautiful and full in scope. It has well-crafted, full characters. Characters that I cared about, rooted for (or against). I felt like I was a part of this small community for the duration of the novel. But it’s a big novel. It has lots of interweaving plot lines that come together nicely at the end. But it would take a lot of space to set it all up. And I’m sure it’s been done better before me. And there are plenty of reviews I’m sure. But, while switching back and forth between my beautiful Penguin Drop Caps edition and my Kindle, I did highlight a lot of passages. So, I thought I would share those:
- How many persons do we observe who make an outward confession of their faults, yet, far from being afflicted from them, take a new pleasure in relating them.
- We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time; keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say, ‘Oh, nothing!’ Pride helps us; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our own hurts–not to hurt others.
- …people were so ridiculous with their illusions, carrying their fool’s caps unawares, thinking their own lies opaque while everybody else’s were transparent, making themselves exceptions to everything, as when all the world looked yellow under a lamp they alone were rosy.
- The troublesome ones in a family are usually either the wits or the idiots.
- ” Confound you handsome young fellows! You think of having it all your own way in the world. You don’t understand women. They don’t admire you half so much as you admire yourselves.”
- “There is correct English: that is not slang”
“I beg your pardon: correct English is the slang of prigs who write history and essays. And the strongest slang of all is the slang of the poets.”
- ” I call it improper pride to let fools’ notions hinder you from doing a good action. There’s no sort of work,” said Caleb, with fervor, putting out his hand and moving it up and down to mark his emphasis, “that could ever be done well, if you minded what fools say. You must have it inside you that your plan is right, and that plan you must follow.”
- Who can know how much of his most inward life is made up of the thoughts he believes other men to have about him, until that fabric of opinion is threatened with ruin?
- “I believe that people are almost always better than their neighbors think they are.”
- What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?
- “character is not cut in marble–it is not something solid and unalterable…”
- “My dear fellow, we are rather apt to consider an act wrong because it is unpleasant to us.”
- Every limit is a beginning as well as an ending
There you have it. George Eliot was a wonderful writer, with a great ability to get to the heart of a lot of aspects of human nature. I am sure I am not finished with her work; although, I am definitely going to recommend Middlemarch over Daniel Deronda. For a way to ease into George Eliot if never having read any of her work, start with Silas Marner.