#Classic: George Eliot, Essays and Poems
- Author: George Eliot
- Title: Selected Essays, Poems and Other Writings (544 pg)
- Published: 1991, Penguin Classics
- Table of contents:
- 9 essays — 6 letters — 20 reviews — 3 poems
- 1 essay written by a fictional scholar
- ….Eliot’s last piece of fictional writing
- 2 translations (…these I did not read)
- List of Challenges 2018
- Monthly plan
- Non-Fiction Reading List
- Classic Club Master list
- Why did I buy this book?
- That is what I kept asking myself as I struggled
- …reading Eliot’s essays.
- But I am determined in 2019 to read TBR books
- …and live under a book buying embargo
- …until further notice!
- Prospectus of the Westiminister and Foreign Quarterl – terrible
- Woman In France: Mme de Sablé – ONLY ESSAY I LIKED!
- Dr. Cumming – Eliot being the most prominent figure to criticize him for his anti-Catholicism.
- German Wit: Heinrich Heine – awful, not interested in Heine’s wit. 50% quotes of HH’s works.
- The Natural History of German Life – pointless
- Silly Novels by Lady Novelists –Eliot is critical of women who think they can write novels.
- Worldliness: the Poet Young – famous essay by Eliot
- She discusses the “radical insincerity as a poetic artist Edward Young”.
- Young is famous for long poem Night Thoughts
- The poet muses on death over a series of nine “nights”.
- Essay is too long ….just nothing I want to know.
- Eliot is clearly NOT a fan of Edward Young.
- The Ilfrcombe Journal: personal notes, vacation with husband, nature walks – boring.
- Notes on Form in Art: – written in another time….for another audience, not me.
- Weak point: overstatement, too many details, should be edited
- 6 letters discussing Positivism and
- …George Eliot’s dramatic poem The Spanish Gypsy
- …with Frederic Harrison.
- Harrison (1831-1923) was a religious teacher, literary critic, historian and jurist.
- What is Positivism?
- It is a philosophical theory stating that certain knowledge
- is based on information derived from sensory experience
- …interpreted through reason and logic.
- Weak point: uninteresting topic for the general reader
Little did I know that George Eliot was a book critic!
Eliot published her reviews in the Coventry Herald and Observer,
…The Westminster Review (Eliot was assistant editor)
…Leader and The Fortnightly Review.
- George Eliot has a wonderful
- …way of dissing a book, really criticizing it with a smile:
- “…So we restrain our noble rage, and say good bye now
- …and for ever to Lord Brougham’s Lives of Men of Letters…”
- 20 reviews have more to say to the modern reader.
- Strong point reviews: Reviews were at times too grand-eloquent
- …but I learned something from each review.
- When I lost track of Eliot’s core message….I looked up a
- condensed version about the book/author in Wikipedia.
- Then I could read (if needed…skim) Eliot’s reviews
- ..with an eye for the issues of interest.
- Discovery: A Lost Love (1854, 232 pg) by Ashford Owen
- …pen name Anne Charlotte Ogle, (1832-1918).
- Her book is considered one of the best novella’s of it’s era
- .…but who has ever read it?
- Discovery: John Ruskin (1819 – 1900)
- ….was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era.
- Unfortunately I enjoyed the Wikipedia page on Ruskin
- …more than Eliot’s review!
- Strong point: Eliot’s elaborate writing style that characterized the essays
- …gave way in time to plainer language in her 20 reviews (pg 261-389).
Poem: Armgart (1871)
- George Eliot is an important 19th C novelist
- …but her two volumes of poetry are often ignored.
- Poem: Armgart (dramatic poem with 7 scenes)
- Like Middlemarch…
- Armgart tells the story of the incompatibility
- of love and art for an artist who is a woman.
- Strange….this feels more like a ‘mini play’…not a poem!
Poem: The Spanish Gypsy (1868)
- Poem: The Spanish Gypsy
- Set 15th C Andalucía: Fedalma, a young woman
- born as a gypsy…she was snatched by marauding Spaniards.
- She was raised a Catholic by her fiancé Don Silva’s family.
- Weak point: this is a long winded dramatic poem
- It has sunk out of sight under its own weight!
- Sorry, this is just not good.
- Eliot should stick to what she does best….write novels!
Poem: Brother and Sister (1874)
- Just when I was giving up on Eliot’s poetry I found…
- Poem: Brother and Sister
- Shakespearean sonnet: ABAB-CDCD-EFEF-GG)
- This is a delightful poem drawing on the
- …relationship Eliot had with her brother Isaac.
- This relationship is also the center of The Mill on the Floss (1860)
- Strong point: You have to discover the world underneath the words.
- The shape and rhyme of the poem is familiar.
- The voice of a little girl is innocent. She adores her brother.
- The rhythm is used to bring certain feelings of responses.
- You may even think about
- …your connection to an elder brother…or sister!
Fictional essay by G. Eliot: – From…Impressions of Theophrastus Such (1879)
- This was Eliot’s last published fiction writing
- …and her most experimental.
- Debasing the Moral Currency
- …is a essay by an imaginary minor scholar
- His eccentric character is revealed through his work.
- I read this essay twice
- ….and all Eliot is saying could
- …be summed up in 3 short sentences!
- She regrets that we are losing the art of of fine wit and humor
- We now turn to burlesque and parodies.
- We are at the mercy of poor jest…frivolous mood or manner.
- Weak point: too long, feels pointless and waste of my reading time!
Translations (447-468 pg)
- I am NOT reading the very last section:
- Eliot’s translations of:
- David Strauss’s Life of Jesus
- Ludwig Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity
- I have read enough!
- How did I read this dense book?
- You have to be motivated.
- This was my first book 2019 and
- …I was not going to stumble and
- …fall with the first challenging book!
- #FirstBook 2019