Saturday, March 10, 2012

Middlemarch, book one

I'm determined to read some Big Ass Books™ this year, and right now I'm working on George Eliot's Middlemarch. Here are the passages I marked from "book one"; the first of eight.

Sane people did what their neighbours did, so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.

...a kind Providence furnishes the limpest personality with a little gum or starch in the form of tradition.

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.

"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."

Thank you, Eliot.
"He has got no good red blood in his body," said Sir James.
"No. Somebody put a drop under a magnifying-glass, and it was all semicolons and parentheses," said Mrs. Cadwallader.
"Why does he not bring out his book, instead of marrying?" said Sir James, with a disgust which he held warranted by the sound feeling of an English Layman.
"Oh, he dreams footnotes, and they run away with all his brains. They say, when he was a little boy, he made an abstract of 'Hop o' my Thumb,' and he has been making abstracts ever since."

I seriously lol'd at this part. I feel sorry for Casaubon right now. But as the passage below points out, I can see foresee future events unfolding that may change my opinion. So happy to be reading a classic novel of which I don't already know the plot.
But any one watching keenly the stealthy convergence of human lots, sees a slow preparation of effects from one life on another, which tells like a calculated irony on the indifference or the frozen stare with which we look at our unintroduced neighbour. Destiny stands by sarcastic with our dramatic personae folded in her hand.

...correct English is the slang of prigs who write history and essays. And the strongest slang of all is the slang of poets.

In one hundred years correct English will be the slang of twitterers and youtube commenters. Shit is cray. But whatevs.


  1. All of that prose and you end the article with the word "whatevs". That's classic.

    The first quote is one of sheer brilliance. I'd even go so far as to say its inspiration.

  2. Ha...I didn't even think about it. I'd like to think if George Eliot were alive today she would use "whatevs" every now and then.