Monday, August 1, 2011

The Lifted Veil, 33/100

So George Eliot wrote a gothic-horror/science fiction piece? I can tell I'm going to like this novella challenge.

The Lifted Veil is quite a departure from Eliot's other work. Written only a few months after Adam Bede, it was at first rejected by her publisher. However it now seems to be getting the critical attention it deserves.

The story follows Latimer, a self-described sensitive poet who also happens to be clairvoyant -- he can see visions of the future, as well as into the minds of others. He becomes enamored with the only woman whose mind he cannot penetrate, a plot device that's been thrown around lately. Twilight and that Nicholas Cage movie comes to mind.

The interesting part is that he sees a vision which reveals her true malevolent nature, and the unhappiness their marriage will bring them both, but he does nothing to keep the events from unfolding:

It is an old story, that men sell themselves to the tempter, and sign a bond with their blood, because it is only to take effect at a distant day; then rush on to snatch the cup their souls thirst after with an impulse not the less savage because there is a dark shadow beside them for evermore. There is no short cut, no patent tram-road, to wisdom: after all the centuries of invention, the soul’s path lies through the thorny wilderness which must be still trodden in solitude, with bleeding feet, with sobs for help, as it was trodden by them of old time.

The gothic-horror and suspense comes in bits and pieces, including a reanimation scene that brings to mind Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker.

Here are some other passages I marked:

I read Plutarch, and Shakespeare, and Don Quixote by the sly, and supplied myself in that way with wandering thoughts, while my tutor was assuring me that “an improved man, as distinguished from an ignorant one, was a man who knew the reason why water ran downhill.” I had no desire to be this improved man; I was glad of the running water; I could watch it and listen to it gurgling among the pebbles, and bathing the bright green water-plants, by the hour together. I did not want to know why it ran; I had perfect confidence that there were good reasons for what was so very beautiful.

We learn words by rote, but not their meaning; that must be paid for with our life-blood, and printed in the subtle fibres of our nerves.

Buy a copy from Melville House here, or read it for free at Project Gutenberg.


  1. I has no idea what this was about! Mentally pushed it way down my list for reasons I do not fully understand. But you definitely have me reconsidering. Especially with the promise of gothic horror and suspense.

  2. First of all, I love your blog design and your header! I have read anything by George Eliot, but your post makes this novella seem like something that I want to read. Great post!