December 9, 2012

George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda

Sometimes they buoy us, other times they bound us, but our beliefs are always in play when we dream.  A shorthand way to pinpoint what we believe is to look at the quotes we’ve collected, including lyrics from songs, passages from books.  Below are the passages I underlined from Daniel Deronda by George Eliot which I just finished reading: thanks to Leslie Graff for the book recommendation.

That I may live to be one of the best women, who make others glad that they were born.

The fuller nature desires to be an agent, to create, and not merely to look on.

The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.

The beginning of an acquaintance whether with persons or things is to get a definite outline of our ignorance.

In reading unwelcome news, instead of hearing it, there is the advantage that one avoids a hasty expression of impatience which may afterwards be repented of.

Receptiveness is a rare and massive power.

It is good to be unselfish and generous; but don’t carry that too far. It will not do to give yourself to be melted down for the benefit of the tallow-trade; you must know where to find yourself.

The best augury of success in a man’s profession is that he thinks it the best in the world.

Excellence encourages one about life generally; it shows the spiritual wealth of the world.

What sort of earth or heaven would hold any spiritual wealth in it for souls pauperised by inaction?

Men can do nothing without the make-believe of a beginning.

***

This final quote is not necessarily inspiring. But it is illuminating on the topic of women and ambition, especially given how the plot unfolds and that Daniel Deronda was published in 1876.

Her uncle’s intention [for her to marry] fell in perfectly with Gwendolen’s own wishes.  But let no one suppose that she also contemplated a brilliant marriage as the direct end of her witching the world with her grace, or with any other accomplishment.  That she was to be married some time or other she would have felt obliged to admit; but her thoughts never dwelt on marriage as the fulfillment of ambition.  To be very much sued or hopelessly sighed for as a bride was indeed an indispensable and agreeable guarantee of womanly power; but to become a wife and wear all the domestic fetters of that condition, was on the whole a vexatious necessity…of course marriage was social promotion; she could not look forward to a single life; but promotions have sometimes to be taken with bitter herbs; and this delicate-limbed sylph of twenty meant to lead.  For such passions dwell in feminine breasts also.

***

What books have you read lately?  Which passages did you underline?  How do they influence your dreaming?

  • Orlee Berlove

    I loved this book…. although it took me 4 months to get through. Author Allegra Goodman has called this one of the best Jewish novels ever written. I think it’s a great novel and, once you know a bit more of the history of George Elliot, an even more fascinating read.

    Bien fait, Whitney!

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