Wednesday, October 12, 2011



Excerpts from George Eliot, Romola (1863).

Chapter III (Nello speaking):
"Heaven forbid I should fetter my impartiality by entertaining an opinion."
Chapter VI (Bardo de' Bardi speaking):
"I myself, for having shown error in a single preposition, had an invective written against me wherein I was taxed with treachery, fraud, indecency, and even hideous crimes. Such, my young friend, such are the flowers with which the glorious path of scholarship is strewed!"
Chapter VI (Tito Melema speaking):
"He was of opinion that a new and more glorious era would open for learning when men should begin to look for their commentaries on the ancient writers in the remains of cities and temples—nay, in the paths of the rivers, and on the face of the valleys and mountains."
Chapter XII (Monna Brigida speaking):
"Well, well; if I didn't bring you some news of the world now and then, I do believe you'd forget there was any thing in life but these mouldy ancients, who want sprinkling with holy water if all I hear about them is true."
Chapter XXX:
And now again Baldassare said, "I am not alone in the world; I shall never be alone, for my revenge is with me."

It was as the instrument of that revenge, as something merely external and subservient to his true life, that he bent down again to examine himself with hard curiosity—not, he thought, because he had any care for a withered, forsaken old man, whom nobody loved, whose soul was like a deserted home, where the ashes were cold upon the hearth, and the walls were bare of all but the marks of what had been. It is in the nature of all human passion, the lowest as well as the highest, that there is a point at which it ceases to be properly egoistic, and is like a fire kindled within our being to which every thing else in us is mere fuel.
Chapter XXXI:
There was one thing that would have made the pang of disappointment in her husband harder to bear: it was, that any one should know he gave her cause for disappointment. This might be a woman's weakness, but it is closely allied to a woman's nobleness. She who willingly lifts up the veil of her married life has profaned it from a sanctuary into a vulgar place.
Chapter XXXVI:
Hard speech between those who have loved is hideous in the memory, like the sight of greatness and beauty sunk into vice and rags.
Chapter XXXVIII:
[T]hen he turned towards the book which lay open at his side. It was a fine large manuscript, an odd volume of Pausanias. The moonlight was upon it, and he could see the large letters at the head of the page:

                ΜΕΣΣΗΝΙΚΑ. ΚΒ.

In old days he had known Pausanias familiarly; yet an hour or two ago he had been looking hopelessly at that page, and it had suggested no more meaning to him than if the letters had been black weather-marks on a wall; but at this moment they were once more the magic signs that conjure up a world.
Chapter XXXIX:
[T]he lie was not so difficult when it was once begun; and as the words fell easily from his lips, they gave him a sense of power such as men feel when they have begun a muscular feat successfully.
Chapter XLII:
That had a patriotic sound; but, looked at more closely, the Holy League seemed very much like an agreement among certain wolves to drive away all other wolves, and then to see which among themselves could snatch the largest share of the prey.
Chapter XLV (Nello speaking):
"I myself was thought beautiful by the women at one time—when I was in my swaddling-bands."
Chapter XLVII:
Life was so complicated a game that the devices of skill were liable to be defeated at every turn by air-blown chances, incalculable as the descent of thistle-down.
Chapter XLVII:
She liked to hear the rain: the stormy heavens seemed a safeguard against men's devices, compelling them to inaction.
Chapter LXI:
In that declaration of his, that the Cause of his party was the Cause of God's kingdom, she heard only the ring of egoism.
Chapter LXIV:
Our naked feelings make haste to clothe themselves in propositions which lie at hand among our store of opinions, and to give a true account of what passes within us something else is necessary besides sincerity, even when sincerity is unmixed.
Related post: Middlemarch.

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