George Eliot quotes

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George Eliot

Birthdate: 22. November 1819
Date of death: 22. December 1880
Other names: Marian Evans

Mary Anne Evans , known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She is the author of seven novels, including Adam Bede , The Mill on the Floss , Silas Marner , Middlemarch , and Daniel Deronda , most of which are set in provincial England and known for their realism and psychological insight.

She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure that her works would be taken seriously. Female authors were published under their own names during Eliot's life, but she wanted to escape the stereotype of women's writing only lighthearted romances. She also wished to have her fiction judged separately from her already extensive and widely known work as an editor and critic. An additional factor in her use of a pen name may have been a desire to shield her private life from public scrutiny and to prevent scandals attending her relationship with the married George Henry Lewes, with whom she lived for over 20 years.

Eliot's Middlemarch has been described by Martin Amis and Julian Barnes as the greatest novel in the English language.

Works

Middlemarch
Middlemarch
George Eliot
Adam Bede
Adam Bede
George Eliot
Daniel Deronda
Daniel Deronda
George Eliot
Romola
Romola
George Eliot
The Lifted Veil
The Lifted Veil
George Eliot
Silas Marner
Silas Marner
George Eliot

„A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.“

—  George Eliot

Thiis was published without credit in The Best Loved Poems of the American People (1936) with the title "Friendship", and since that time has sometimes been misattributed http://www.geonius.com/eliot/quotes.html to Eliot; it is actually an adaptation of lines by Dinah Craik, in A Life for a Life (1859):
Misattributed
Context: Oh, the comfort —
the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person —
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all right out,
just as they are,
chaff and grain together;
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping,
and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.

„What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?“

—  George Eliot, book Middlemarch

Middlemarch (1871)
Context: What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other? I cannot be indifferent to the troubles of a man who advised me in my trouble, and attended me in my illness.

„Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.“

—  George Eliot, book Impressions of Theophrastus Such

Source: Impressions of Theophrastus Such, Ch, 4 (1879); comparable to. James Russell Lowell 1871: Blessed are they who have nothing to say, and who cannot be persuaded to say it. https://books.google.de/books?id=YRmn-_vXZ58C&pg=PA102&dq=persuaded

„When Cain was driven from Jehovah's land
He wandered eastward, seeking some far strand
Ruled by kind gods who asked no offerings
Save pure field-fruits“

—  George Eliot

The Legend of Jubal (1869)
Context: When Cain was driven from Jehovah's land
He wandered eastward, seeking some far strand
Ruled by kind gods who asked no offerings
Save pure field-fruits, as aromatic things,
To feed the subtler sense of frames divine
That lived on fragrance for their food and [wine]]:
Wild joyous gods, who winked at faults and folly,
And could be pitiful and melancholy.
He never had a doubt that such gods were;
He looked within, and saw them mirrored there.

„Jubal had a frame
Fashioned to finer senses, which became
A yearning for some hidden soul of things“

—  George Eliot

The Legend of Jubal (1869)
Context: Jubal had a frame
Fashioned to finer senses, which became
A yearning for some hidden soul of things,
Some outward touch complete on inner springs
That vaguely moving bred a lonely pain,
A want that did but stronger grow with gain
Of all good else, as spirits might be sad
For lack of speech to tell us they are glad.

„The yoke a man creates for himself by wrong-doing will breed hate in the kindliest nature;...“

—  George Eliot

Source: Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe (1861), Chapter 3 (at page 32)

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„Each day he wrought and better than he planned,
Shape breeding shape beneath his restless hand.
(The soul without still helps the soul within,
And its deft magic ends what we begin.)“

—  George Eliot

On the work of the metal-smith Tubal-Cain
The Legend of Jubal (1869)
Context: Each day he wrought and better than he planned,
Shape breeding shape beneath his restless hand.
(The soul without still helps the soul within,
And its deft magic ends what we begin.)
Nay, in his dreams his hammer he would wield
And seem to see a myriad types revealed,
Then spring with wondering triumphant cry,
And, lest the inspiring vision should go by,
Would rush to labor with that plastic zeal
Which all the passion of our life can steal
For force to work with. Each day saw the birth
Of various forms, which, flung upon the earth,
Seemed harmless toys to cheat the exacting hour,
But were as seeds instinct with hidden power.

„But ere the laughter died from out the rear,
Anger in front saw profanation near;
Jubal was but a name in each man's faith
For glorious power untouched by that slow death
Which creeps with creeping time“

—  George Eliot

The Legend of Jubal (1869)
Context: But ere the laughter died from out the rear,
Anger in front saw profanation near;
Jubal was but a name in each man's faith
For glorious power untouched by that slow death
Which creeps with creeping time; this too, the spot,
And this the day, it must be crime to blot,
Even with scoffing at a madman's lie:
Jubal was not a name to wed with mockery.
Two rushed upon him: two, the most devout
In honor of great Jubal, thrust him out,
And beat him with their flutes. 'Twas little need;
He strove not, cried not, but with tottering speed,
As if the scorn and howls were driving wind
That urged his body, serving so the mind
Which could but shrink and yearn, he sought the screen
Of thorny thickets, and there fell unseen.
The immortal name of Jubal filled the sky,
While Jubal lonely laid him down to die.

„Such patience have the heroes who begin,
Sailing the first toward lands which others win.“

—  George Eliot

The Legend of Jubal (1869)
Context: Such patience have the heroes who begin,
Sailing the first toward lands which others win.
Jubal must dare as great beginners dare,
Strike form's first way in matter rude and bare,
And, yearning vaguely toward the plenteous choir
Of the world's harvest, make one poor small lyre.

„Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult.“

—  George Eliot, book Adam Bede

Adam Bede (1859)
Context: These fellow-mortals, every one, must be accepted as they are: you can neither straighten their noses, nor brighten their wit, nor rectify their dispositions; and it is these people — amongst whom your life is passed — that it is needful you should tolerate, pity, and love: it is these more or less ugly, stupid, inconsistent people whose movements of goodness you should be able to admire — for whom you should cherish all possible hopes, all possible patience. And I would not, even if I had the choice, be the clever novelist who could create a world so much better than this, in which we get up in the morning to do our daily work, that you would be likely to turn a harder, colder eye on the dusty streets and the common green fields — on the real breathing men and women, who can be chilled by your indifference or injured by your prejudice; who can be cheered and helped onward by your fellow-feeling, your forbearance, your outspoken, brave justice.
So I am content to tell my simple story, without trying to make things seem better than they were; dreading nothing, indeed, but falsity, which, in spite of one's best efforts, there is reason to dread. Falsehood is so easy, truth so difficult. The pencil is conscious of a delightful facility in drawing a griffin — the longer the claws, and the larger the wings, the better; but that marvellous facility which we mistook for genius is apt to forsake us when we want to draw a real unexaggerated lion. Examine your words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even about your own immediate feelings — much harder than to say something fine about them which is not the exact truth.

„It is so much easier to make up your mind that your neighbour is good for nothing, than to enter into all the circumstances that would oblige you to modify that opinion.“

—  George Eliot, book Scenes of Clerical Life

"The Sad Fortunes of the Rev. Amos Barton" Ch. 4
Scenes of Clerical Life (1858)
Context: Nice distinctions are troublesome. It is so much easier to say that a thing is black, than to discriminate the particular shade of brown, blue, or green, to which it really belongs. It is so much easier to make up your mind that your neighbour is good for nothing, than to enter into all the circumstances that would oblige you to modify that opinion.

„Jubal was not a name to wed with mockery.
Two rushed upon him: two, the most devout
In honor of great Jubal, thrust him out,
And beat him with their flutes.“

—  George Eliot

The Legend of Jubal (1869)
Context: But ere the laughter died from out the rear,
Anger in front saw profanation near;
Jubal was but a name in each man's faith
For glorious power untouched by that slow death
Which creeps with creeping time; this too, the spot,
And this the day, it must be crime to blot,
Even with scoffing at a madman's lie:
Jubal was not a name to wed with mockery.
Two rushed upon him: two, the most devout
In honor of great Jubal, thrust him out,
And beat him with their flutes. 'Twas little need;
He strove not, cried not, but with tottering speed,
As if the scorn and howls were driving wind
That urged his body, serving so the mind
Which could but shrink and yearn, he sought the screen
Of thorny thickets, and there fell unseen.
The immortal name of Jubal filled the sky,
While Jubal lonely laid him down to die.

„He never had a doubt that such gods were;
He looked within, and saw them mirrored there.“

—  George Eliot

The Legend of Jubal (1869)
Context: When Cain was driven from Jehovah's land
He wandered eastward, seeking some far strand
Ruled by kind gods who asked no offerings
Save pure field-fruits, as aromatic things,
To feed the subtler sense of frames divine
That lived on fragrance for their food and [wine]]:
Wild joyous gods, who winked at faults and folly,
And could be pitiful and melancholy.
He never had a doubt that such gods were;
He looked within, and saw them mirrored there.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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