Literary Inspirations - 20th November, 2008

"Anger and jealousy can no more bear to lose sight of their objects than love" - George Eliot.
We can see this truth in our lives all the time... ever wanted to see your ex after you've broken up even though you're so pissed? Hang out with a friend who you are particularly envious of? Anger and jealousy, like love, usually require someone else to trigger the emotion, someone else to pin the emotion upon and sustain it. When the other person refuses to play the game or participate, or the situation changes, its hard to sustain it. In some ways anger and jealousy are even worse at sustainability than love... we can claim that absense makes the heart grow fonder, whereas anger and jealousy die when the target is out of sight.
George Eliot was a controversial character in her time. Born Mary Ann Evans, her introduction to more liberal theologies and her refusal to attend church caused a rift between her and her family. A move to London in 1850 saw her adopt a literary career, assisting an editor under the name Marian Evans and associating in a largely male literary world. A single woman taking a strong role in a male-dominated lifestyle was bound to attract ill attention, and whether true or not, connections were made between her and several of her close male colleagues. One attraction, however, had her family refuse to speak to her.
Marian Evans fell in love with George Lewes. Who was married. He had an open marriage with his wife and, whilst they had three children together, she also had several children with other men. Because one of these illegitimate children had his name, George was unable to divorce his wife under grounds of adultery. What was Marian to do? She pursued the relationship anyway, George becoming her lover, confidante and publicist all in one. He helped her get published under her pseudonym George Eliot - victorian novels such as Middlemarch, Adam Bede and my personal favourite The Mill on the Floss. While she lived a life of scandal, her literary genius was enough to bring around most of "polite society" and she lived out her days as one of the eccentric doyennes of English Literature.

1 comment:

  1. I've always wanted to read The Mill on the Floss! I must hunt that book down - she sounds like she had an amazing life!