Thursday, March 29, 2012

Middlemarch, book two

Okay, now I'm really getting into Middlemarch. Eliot's writing is blowing me away. It's slow to get into -- as others have noted -- but once you pass page 150 or so, you're hooked.

So here are some passages from book two, "Old and Young":

I think any hardship is better than pretending to do what one is paid for, and never really doing it.

No comment.

Most of us who turn to any subject we love remember some morning or evening hour when we got on a high stool to reach down an untried volume, or sat with parted lips listening to a new talker, or for very lack of books began to listen to the voices within, as the first traceable beginning of our love.

"Don't you think men overrate the necessity for humouring everybody's nonsense, till they get despised by the very fools they humour? ... The shortest way is to make your value felt, so that people must put up with you whether you flatter them or not."

How could a man be satisfied with a decision between such alternatives and under such circumstances? No more than he can be satisfied with his hat, which he has chosen from among such shapes as the resources of the age offer him, wearing it at best with a resignation which is chiefly supported by comparison.

I can imagine this is what it feels like to be a voter in the republican primary this year. Should we pick Top Hat (Romney) or Propeller Beanie (Santorum)? It's enough to make you miss Cowboy Hat (Bush or Reagan, take your pick).

So fuck it. Fedora 2012.

Some discouragement, some faintness of heart at the new real future which replaces the imaginary, is not unusual, and we do not expect people to be deeply moved by what is not unusual. That element of tragedy which lies in the very fact of frequency, has not yet wrought itself into the coarse emotion of mankind; and perhaps our frames could hardly bear much of it. If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we would die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.

I should like to make life beautiful--I mean everybody's life. And then all this immense expense of art, that seems somehow to lie outside life and make it no better for the world, pains one. It spoils my enjoyment of anything when I am made to think that most people are shut out from it...

I should be quite willing to enjoy the art here, but there is so much that I don't know the reason of--so much that seems to me a consecration of ugliness rather than beauty. The painting and sculpture may be wonderful, but the feeling is often low and brutal, and sometimes even ridiculous. Here and there I see what takes me at once as noble...but that makes it the greater pity that there is so little of the best kind among all that mass of things over which men have toiled so...

I have often felt since I have been in Rome that most of our lives would look much uglier and more bungling than the pictures, if they could be put on the wall.

If my life were a picture it would probably be a velvet painting of a sad clown eating a bag of cool ranch doritos.

I'm discussing one of the most highly respected English language novels ever written and this is the best I can come up with. Feel free to unfollow at any time.

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