Monday, February 23, 2009

Chapbook Entry


“It is true, there is little real culture among men; there are few strong thinkers and fewer honest ones; but they have still some advantages. If their education has been bad, it has at least been a trifle better than ours. Six hours a day at Latin and Greek are better than six hours a day at worsted work and embroidery.” Catherine Crowe, The Story of Lily Dawson, 1852

p. 43

George Eliot, caring for her widowed father in Nuneaton, studied German, Italian, and Latin, and read theology, history, fiction, poetry, and science. Much later, Eliot showed this same enviable ability to use periods of forced seclusion for study, rather than waste them in nostalgia or self-pity. In the years 1855-1858, “during the long period of social ostracism, when, because of her honest avowal of the union with Lewes, she was not invited to dinner,” she read, in Greek, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Ajax, the Oedipus trilogy, the Electra, the Philoctetes, and the Aeschylus trilogy; and in Latin, Horace, Virgil, Cicero, Persius, Livy, Tacitus, Plautus, Quintilian, and Pliny.


“If self is to be the end of exertions, these exertions are unholy, there is no doubt of that- and that is part of the danger in cultivating the individual life, but I do believe we all have some appointed work to do; which no one else can do so well… and that first we must find out what we are sent into the world to do, and define it, and make it clear to ourselves (that’s the hard part) and then forget ourselves in our work.” Elizabeth Gaskell, Letters, p.106


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