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In a Green Shade eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 151 pages of information about In a Green Shade.
to be interesting; and even if stars should happen to be struck out, it is not the collision, nor the stars either, which interest us most.  No, it is our state of soul, our mental process under the stress which we care about, and as mental process is always going on, and the state of the soul is never the same for two moments together, there is ample material for a novel of extreme interest, which need never finish, which might indeed be as perennial as a daily newspaper or the Annual Register.  Why is it, do you suppose, that anybody, if he can, will read anybody else’s letter?  It is because every man-Jack of us lives in a cage, cut off from every other man-Jack; because we are incapable of knowing what is going on in the mind of our nearest and dearest, and because we burn for the assurance we may get by evidence of homogeneity procurable from any human source.  Man is a creature of social instinct condemned by his nature to be solitary.  Creatures in all outward respects similar to himself are awhirl about him.  They cannot help him, nor he them; he cannot even be sure, for all he may assume it, that they share his hope and calling.

    Ensphered in flesh we live and die,
      And see a myriad souls adrift,
    Our likes, and send our voiceless cry
      Shuddering across the void:  “The truth! 
    Succour!  The truth!” None can reply.

That is the state of our case.  We can cope with mere events, comedy, tragedy, farce.  The things that happen to us are not our life.  They are imposed upon life, they come and go.  But life is a secret process.  We only see the accretions.

The novel which I dreamed of writing has recently been done, or rather begun, by Miss Dorothy Richardson.  She betters the example of Jane Austen by telling us much more about what seems to be infinitely less, but is not so in reality.  She dips into the well whereof Miss Austen skims the surface.  She has essayed to report the mental process of a young woman’s lifetime from moment to moment.  In the course of four, if not five, volumes nothing has happened yet but the death of a mother and the marriage of a sister or so.  She may write forty, and I shall be ready for the forty-first.  Mental process, the states of the soul, emotional reaction—­these as they are moved in us by other people are Miss Richardson’s subject-matter, and according as these are handled is the interest we can devote to her novels.  These fleeting things are Miss Richardson’s game, and they are the things which interest us most in ourselves, and the things which we desire to know most about in our neighbours.

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