Saturday, April 08, 2006

Chapter 39

I'm not very good at writing about literature but wanted to check in to say that I found Chapter 39 to be a gorgeous and immensely satisfying chapter. I think it shows Eliot at her best--able to bring the personal and political-the interior and the exterior of a person together in believable, recognizable and illuminating ways.

What did I love about it? Passages like these:

* "Will, the moment before, had been low in the depths of boredom, and, obliged to help Mr. Brooke in arranging "documents" about hanging sheep-stealers, was exemplifying the power our minds have of riding several horses at once by inwardly arranging measures towards getting a lodging for himself in Middlemarch and cutting short his constant residence at the Grange; while there flitted through all these steadier images a tickling vision of a sheep-stealing epic written with Homeric particularity. When Mrs. Casaubon was announced he started up as from an electric shock, and felt a tingling at his finger ends."

*Dorothea sharing her "belief" with Will:
"That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don't quite know what it is and connot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil--widening the skirts of light andmaking the struggle with darkness narrower."
(Will): "That is a beautiful mysticism--it is a--"
(Dorothea): "Please do not to call it by any name....You will say it is Persian, or something else geographical. It is my life. I have found it out, and cannot part with it."

*I also loved the visit to Mr. Dagley and how the description of Dagley's ignorance in the end emphasized Brooke's ignorance.

*This is from an earlier chapter, but I am very tickled by the fact that Mrs. Cadwallader keeps calling Casaubon, Thomas Aquinas. It pleases me to no end.


Blogger Lelia said...

My favorite quote of the WHOLE book was Dorothea sharing her belief with Will ... I've had that quote posted near my desk a long time.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Isabella said...

I have that quote triple asterisked and circled in question marks. Because it IS something Persian. Isn't it Zoroastrianism?

Does anyone care to hypothesize how that kind of "mysticism" fits with Puritanism? Or know what Eliot's religious interests and leanings were?

You're right, Raehan; it's a great chapter. I find I'm deeply moved by all the encounters between Dorothea and Will, even though there are so relatively few of them.

11:29 PM  

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