Sunday, September 04, 2011

Slow Read: Middlemarch Book 2, Chapters 18-22

MiddlemarchCHAPTER XVIII "Oh, sir, the loftiest hopes on earth Draw lots with meaner hopes: heroic breasts, Breathing bad air, ran risk of pestilence; Or, lacking lime-juice when they cross the Line, May languish with the scurvy."

Lydgate continued to work with Mr. Bulstrode. He was really uncertain whether Tyke were not the more suitable candidate, and yet his consciousness told him that if he had been quite free from indirect bias he should have voted for Mr. Farebrother.
but later...
Lydgate thought that there was a pitiable infirmity of will in Mr. Farebrother. 
Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black? Or does he think it an expression of will to vote against what others expect? Hardly seems so to me...seems to me his actions then are all about what others expect.

CHAPTER XIX "L' altra vedete ch'ha fatto alla guancia Della sua palma, sospirando, letto." --Purgatorio, vii.
They were just in time to see another figure standing against a pedestal near the reclining marble: a breathing blooming girl, whose form, not shamed by the Ariadne, was clad in Quakerish gray drapery; her long cloak, fastened at the neck, was thrown backward from her arms, and one beautiful ungloved hand pillowed her cheek, pushing somewhat backward the white beaver bonnet which made a sort of halo to her face around the simply braided dark-brown hair. 
Here I find the benefit not only of reviewing for the sake of blogging, but of the use of my Kindle. Currently, I've just read through Book III, and the image of Ariadne is fresh in my mind from that reading. So, looking back, this jumps out at me, and now I want to know more about Ariadne. And, thanks to my Kindle, I can easily find all the references to Ariadne in Middlemarch. There are just these two occurrences in which Ariadne is named. This one refers to Dorothea Brooke next to the Ariadne statue, witnessed by Will Ladislaw and his German buddy.  The statue draws attention to Dorothea's beauty due to her vivid life as contrasted to the dead stone, and due to her Christian bearing and "Quakerish gray drapery," as contrasted to the Greek fable.  The next occurrence likens the young woman Rosamond to Ariadne...more on that later...but I will say I think this may prove significant in the difference between these two women.
Antigone by Lord Frederick Leighton
"Confound you, Naumann! I don't know what I shall do. I am not so brazen as you." "Bah! that is because you are dilettantish and amateurish. If you were an artist, you would think of Mistress Second-Cousin as antique form animated by Christian sentiment--a sort of Christian Antigone-- sensuous force controlled by spiritual passion."
Ah, Dorothea as Antigone. A passionate idealist who would die for her faith, and the gods will side with her, or God, in this case.

CHAPTER XX "A child forsaken, waking suddenly, Whose gaze afeard on all things round doth rove, And seeth only that it cannot see The meeting eyes of love."
Nor can I suppose that when Mrs. Casaubon is discovered in a fit of weeping six weeks after her wedding, the situation will be regarded as tragic. Some discouragement, some faintness of heart at the new real future which replaces the imaginary, is not unusual, and we do not expect people to be deeply moved by what is not unusual. That element of tragedy which lies in the very fact of frequency, has not yet wrought itself into the coarse emotion of mankind; and perhaps our frames could hardly bear much of it. If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.
I love this. Don't get all bent out of shape...this is what happens.  Illusions are toppled, it's not unusual for a bride to cry.  If we felt deeply over this all the time, everything would be as sharp as pins, all the time.  We should die of the roar on the other side of silence.  The child that wakes suddenly learns from experience, grows up, and learns to move on. This bears pondering.
...she was inwardly seeing the light of years to come in her own home and over the English fields and elms and hedge-bordered highroads; and feeling that the way in which they might be filled with joyful devotedness was not so clear to her as it had been. But in Dorothea's mind there was a current into which all thought and feeling were apt sooner or later to flow--the reaching forward of the whole consciousness towards the fullest truth, the least partial good. There was clearly something better than anger and despondency. 
CHAPTER XXI  "Hire facounde eke full womanly and plain, No contrefeted termes had she To semen wise." --CHAUCER.
We are all of us born in moral stupidity, taking the world as an udder to feed our supreme selves: Dorothea had early begun to emerge from that stupidity, but yet it had been easier to her to imagine how she would devote herself to Mr. Casaubon, and become wise and strong in his strength and wisdom, than to conceive with that distinctness which is no longer reflection but feeling-- an idea wrought back to the directness of sense, like the solidity of objects--that he had an equivalent centre of self, whence the lights and shadows must always fall with a certain difference.

CHAPTER XXII "Nous causames longtemps; elle etait simple et bonne. Ne sachant pas le mal, elle faisait le bien; Des richesses du coeur elle me fit l'aumone, Et tout en ecoutant comme le coeur se donne, Sans oser y penser je lui donnai le mien; Elle emporta ma vie, et n'en sut jamais rien." --ALFRED DE MUSSET.

Found that translation:
"We talked for a long time; she was simple and kind.
Knowing no evil, she did only good:
She gave me alms from the riches of her heart,
And listening intently as she poured out her heart,
Scarcely daring to think, I gave her mine;
Thus she carried off my life, and never even knew it."

"Une Bonne Fortune," by Alfred de Musset (1834).
Even without translation, we could tell this was about Will falling for Dorothea. With translation, we get insights into his looming love.

pfuscherei? = bungling...Will says Naumann will say this of his painting.
It was beautiful to see how Dorothea's eyes turned with wifely anxiety and beseeching to Mr. Casaubon: she would have lost some of her halo if she had been without that duteous preoccupation; and yet at the next moment the husband's sandy absorption of such nectar was too intolerable; and Will's longing to say damaging things about him was perhaps not the less tormenting because he felt the strongest reasons for restraining it.
If he never said a cutting word about Mr. Casaubon again and left off receiving favors from him, it would clearly be permissible to hate him the more. The poet must know how to hate, says Goethe; and Will was at least ready with that accomplishment.

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