Kirsti's Reviews > The Lifted Veil

The Lifted Veil by George Eliot
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's review
Nov 18, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: cake-eaters, fantasy, fiction, pretentious, waah-waaaah-nobody-loves-me, science-fiction
Recommended for: neurasthenics, Trent Reznor, people who wear leather and vinyl in ninety-degree weather
Read in November, 2009

Plotwise, this is not that much more complicated than an episode of Murder, She Wrote. But the prose style is gorgeous, and I felt all swoony and doomy while reading it, and that's a perfectly good feeling to have on rainy November days.

Some of my favorite passages:

The city looked so thirsty that the broad river seemed to me a sheet of metal; and the blackened statues, as I passed under their blank gaze, along the unending bridge, with their ancient garments and their saintly crowns, seemed to me the real inhabitants and owners of this place, while the busy, trivial men and women, hurrying to and fro, were a swarm of ephemeral visitants infesting it for a day.

Already I had begun to taste something of the horror that belongs to the lot of a human being whose nature is not adjusted to simple human conditions.

He had the superficial kindness of a good-humoured, self-satisfied nature, that fears no rivalry, and has encountered no contrarieties.

The most prosaic woman likes to believe herself the object of a violent, a poetic passion; and without a grain of romance in her, Bertha had that spirit of intrigue which gave piquancy to the idea that the brother of the man she meant to marry was dying with love and jealousy for her sake.

The fluctuations of hope and fear, confined to this one channel, made each day in her presence a delicious torment.

The fear of poison is feeble against the sense of thirst.

"A little quiet contempt contributes greatly to the elegance of life."

"The easiest way to deceive a poet is to tell him the truth."

It is a dreary thing to live on doing the same things year after year, without knowing why we do them. Perhaps the tragedy of disappointed youth and passion is less piteous than the tragedy of disappointed age and worldliness.

So absolute is our soul's need of something hidden and uncertain for the maintenance of that doubt and hope and effort which are the breath of its life, that if the whole future were laid bare to us beyond to-day, the interest of all mankind would be bent on the hours that lie between; we should pant after the uncertainties of our one morning and our one afternoon; we should rush fiercely to the Exchange for our last possibility of speculation, of success, of disappointment: we should have a glut of political prophets foretelling a crisis or a no-crisis within the only twenty-four hours left open to prophecy.

Our sweet illusions are half of them conscious illusions, like effects of colour that we know to be made up of tinsel, broken glass, and rags.

. . . a husband who was sickly, abstracted, and, as some suspected, crack-brained.

The rich find it easy to live married and apart.

For continual suffering had annihilated religious faith within me: to the utterly miserable--the unloving and the unloved--there is no religion possible, no worship but a worship of devils.

Horror was my familiar, and this new revelation was only like an old pain recurring with new circumstances.

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