Critical Miscellanies (Vol 3 of 3) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 39 pages of information about Critical Miscellanies (Vol 3 of 3).

THE LIFE OF GEORGE ELIOT

On Literary Biography 93

As a mere letter-writer will not rank among the famous masters 96

Mr. Myers’s Essay 100

Letter to Mr. Harrison 107

Hebrew her favourite study 112

Limitless persistency in application 113

Romola 114

Mr. R.W.  Mackay’s Progress of the Intellect 120

The period of her productions, 1856-1876 124

Mr. Browning 125

An aesthetic not a doctrinal teacher 126

Disliked vehemence 130

Conclusion 131

THE LIFE OF GEORGE ELIOT.[1]

The illustrious woman who is the subject of these volumes makes a remark to her publisher which is at least as relevant now as it was then.  Can nothing be done, she asks, by dispassionate criticism towards the reform of our national habits in the matter of literary biography?  ’Is it anything short of odious that as soon as a man is dead his desk should be raked, and every insignificant memorandum which he never meant for the public be printed for the gossiping amusement of people too idle to reread his books?’ Autobiography, she says, at least saves a man or a woman that the world is curious about, from the publication of a string of mistakes called Memoirs.  Even to autobiography, however, she confesses her deep repugnance unless it can be written so as to involve neither self-glorification nor impeachment of others—­a condition, by the way, with which hardly any, save Mill’s, can be said to comply.  ’I like,’ she proceeds, ’that He being dead yet speaketh should have quite another meaning than that’ (iii. 226, 297, 307).  She shows the same fastidious apprehension still more clearly in another way.  ’I have destroyed almost all my friends’ letters to me,’ she says, ’because they were only intended for my eyes, and could only fall into the hands of persons who knew little of the writers if I allowed them to remain till after my death.  In proportion as I love every form of piety—­which is venerating love—­I hate hard curiosity; and, unhappily, my experience has impressed me with the sense that hard curiosity is the more common temper of mind’ (ii. 286).  There is probably little difference among us in respect of such experience as that.

[Footnote 1:  George Eliot’s Life.  By J.W.  Cross.  Three volumes.  Blackwood and Sons. 1885.]

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Critical Miscellanies (Vol 3 of 3) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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