george eliot

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The moral tradition of our lives


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Our lives make a moral tradition for our individual selves, as the life of mankind at large makes a moral tradition for the race; and to have once acted nobly seems a reason why we should always be noble. But Tito was feeling the effect of an opposite tradition: he had won no memories of

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From George Eliot


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Would you believe, I am still reading Romola by George Eliot? I set it aside a long time ago, after a misprint in my first copy then other books needing to be read for bookclub drew it to a halt. But I picked it up again these holidays. It hasn’t been easy reading, full of

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Heroic maidens


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Why, there are maidens of heroic touch, And yet they seem like things of gossamer You’d pinch the life out of, as out of moths. O, it is not loud tones and nothingness, ‘Tis not the arms akimbo and large strides, That make a woman’s force. The tiniest birds, With softest downy breasts, have passions

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The delight of books


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Books delight our innermost selves, they speak to us, advise us, and are united to us by a kind of living and clear friendship. – from a letter of Petrarch to Giovanni dell’Incisa (Rerum familiarum III, 18). I’ll give it to you in the original Latin, which might seem high-faluting, but is actually just copied

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Reticence and concealment


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I am reading Romola, by George Eliot, very slowly, punctuated by other things. The beginning is actually rather hard work, with lots of historical 15th century Italian ponderings and rhetoric. But here are a few more snippets about characters that I like: Tito had an innate love of reticence – let us say a talent

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