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The Lifted Veil

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  2,367 ratings  ·  247 reviews
Horror was my familiar.

Published the same year as her first novel, Adam Bede, this overlooked work displays the gifts for which George Eliot would become famous—gritty realism, psychological insight, and idealistic moralizing. It is unique from all her other writing, however, in that it represents the only time she ever used a first-person narrator, and it is the only tim
Paperback, 75 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Melville House (first published July 1859)
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Average rating 3.41  · 
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 ·  2,367 ratings  ·  247 reviews

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Lynne King
And she made me believe that she loved me. Without every quitting her tone of badinage and playful superiority, she intoxicated me with the sense that I was necessary to her, that she was never at ease, unless I was near to her, submitting to her playful tyranny. It costs a woman so little effort to besot us in this way!

George Eliot’s (born Mary Anne Evans) imagination cannot be faulted at all throughout this gem of a novella. It is a tour de force captured in a mere seventy-five pages.

Two completely different works in this slim volume, a short short : The Lifted Veil (1859) (pp5-70) and a literary critical piece on women's fiction: Silly Novels by Lady Novelists (1856) (pp73-110) (guess what she thinks about them (view spoiler)) both together in one volume purely to get the book up to 110 pages in length, they share nothing in common.

This book is one of the penguin Little black classics series, which despite being in and out of bo
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: victorian-novels
Quite an oddity for Eliot; a novella that can be read in one sitting and a first person narrator. It also has a distinct gothic edge and feels in the tradition of Mary Shelley and Poe. The themes are not so much supernatural as pseudo-scientific. It concerns the narrator Latimer who believes himself to have extra sensory powers; the ability to see the future and read the thoughts of others. There’s also a spot of mesmerism and the idea that a blood transfusion on death may temporarily raise some ...more
Sep 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of 19th century fiction
Shelves: science-fiction
This book won't be every reader's cup of tea. As the above description suggests, its subject matter was atypical for Eliot --though she wrote it in 1859, her publishers found it so different from her usual work that they delayed printing it until 1878. Premised as it is on psychic phenomena --flashes of telepathy and precognition, which in Eliot's day were just beginning to attract the attention of some intellectuals, and of the public (the titular "veil" is the one that hides the future)-- I wo ...more
A few days after the incident of the opal ring, we were paying one of our frequent visits to the Lichtenberg Palace. I could never look at many pictures in succession; for pictures, when they are at all powerful, affect me so strongly that one or two exhaust all my capability of contemplation. This morning I had been looking at Giorgione’s picture of the cruel-eyed woman, said to be a likeness of Lucrezia Borgia. I had stood long alone before it, fascinated by the terrible reality of that cunnin ...more
Mar 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
I haven’t read much of George Eliot’s work at all, which I should probably be more ashamed of. Still, a friend passed this and Brother Jacob on to me after she was done with it back at university, and I finally got round to actually reading it. I was surprised to find that it’s a supernatural story, in a way, dealing with clairvoyance — and not just as a societal trend, but one character truly is clairvoyant. I didn’t think Eliot wrote anything speculative like that at all, which is probably my ...more
May 16, 2016 rated it liked it
An unhappy man, who believes he knows exactly when and how he will die, tells his story.

When I started this story it bored me. The main character, the narrator, seems lost in self pity. His life has been hard, right from the beginning, it's not his fault, and he's going to have an extended moan about it. He philosophises about life, death and fate, it's terribly depressing.

However, as the story continued I became more caught up in it, more interested in how it would work out.

In the end it was
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
My favourite aspect of Eliot’s writing is the way in which she crafts places. She does so incredibly deftly, and she weaves her settings and scenes into beautiful views which come to life in front of your eyes. I also love her writing style. Despite this, I do not feel that novellas really suit her authorship. She is far better, in my opinion, when she is filling a novel and crafting her beautiful words without any kind of restriction upon them. It feels as though her creative spirit has been su ...more

This was so unlike George Eliot's style, very enjoyable nontheless! It was dark, atmospheric and heavy on the supernatural element. If you are in the mood for a dark victorian short story, read The Lifted Veil!
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
Such a mysterious and sorry tale of a man who can see into his own future -- you'll never wish to know your future again! ;)
I thought this was a little different for Eliot, and I enjoyed it.
Good, but too short. Either this should have been a novel, or I should just read George Eliot's novels instead. Probably both.
A wonderful short book by George Elliot.
The writing style and character design are outstanding, the description of places is very vivid. The MC and teller of the story is a regular guy or so it seems. Gifted with abilities to see his future and very sensitive, he tries to build up a wonderful life, but he chooses thr wrong woman.
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Really not her best work.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
To say I am confused would be putting it lightly. Something about this book reminds me of The Great Gatsby, which is definitely a good thing. I love the writing style but I think I completely missed or misunderstood the plot. I have read several blurbs/synopses of the book before and after and not one is like the other. This book confuses me, but it is so beautifully written en brings about a story and a setting in so few words that it still deserved a 3 out of 5.

Renee M
May 25, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like Gothic literature and I like George Eliot, but this novella fell flat for me. A true novelty for Eliot but in subject (supernatural) and style (1st person narrative). It's a fun little read for the purpose of seeing a great author exploring for her element, before she found her true calling.
Feb 07, 2016 rated it did not like it
Honestly, I have no clue why many people love this book because for me this book felt like an 18th century persons fever dream.
Judith Johnson
Am working my way through Eliot’s work chronologically. I know we did at least one of her novels at my grammar school, but that was many moons ago! Loved Adam Bede, but found this one really hard going.
Kathleen Flynn
What a strange novella! I had never heard of it before encountering it in THE MADWOMAN IN THE ATTIC. Stopped reading Madwoman to download and read this in an afternoon. Definitely a little-known side of George Eliot. Now returning to Madwoman.
ana beatriz
«As for me, this scene seemed of one texture with the rest of my existence: horror was my familiar, and this new revelation was only like an old pain recurring with new circumstances.»
Maan Kawas
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful novella and a dark fantasy that reflects George Eliot’s interest in the contemporary science in her Victorian age, especially in physiology, mesmerism, and phrenology. It, also, shows Eliot’s attempt to the Victorian horror fiction, which is not similar to her other realistic fiction. However, the novella includes many important points and themes, such as the sympathy and lack of sympathy in human relationships, fear of the inevitable death (the unknown) and acceptance of the difficu ...more
Maggie Curry
Required reading for EN 345: The British Novel, this book was very short. I had a hard time getting through it because I had to keep pausing at the extensive colon use.

Favourite Quotes:
"I thirsted for the unknown: the thirst is gone. O God, let me stay with the known, and be weary of it: I am content."

" is the living only who cannot be forgiven..."

"...Bertha was the only being who remained for me in the mysterious seclusion of soul."

"That would give me another day's suspense-suspense, the
A short story published as a Penguin 60s Classic.

I didn't find this "A chilling story of clairvoyance and premonition" as promised on the back. I found it a quirkily written, but ultimately rather boring story. It dates from and was set around 1859, and it is just not my cup of tea.

Must say I am finding the Penguin 60s Classics more miss than hit, when compared to the (orange) Penguin 60s, which were more hit than miss. Just reinforces that I am not drawn to the classics.

Still 17 read, 43 to go.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
A self-pitying clairvoyant whose extrasensory gifts are restricted to picking up the worst, meanest thoughts of those around him (especially his soulless wife) decides to recount his miserable existence once his second sight has made it clear to him that his own diseased death is just around the corner. A Gothic horror tale that has more in common with "Frankenstein" than "Adam Bede," this morose novella suggests a different writerly path for Eliot, one which I for one am glad she did not take.
I'm only giving this 2 stars because the first few pages were great and the writing had its moments. Other than that, I was bored to tears. I decided to clean my kitchen when I only had 2 pages left. I couldn't be bothered. The main character was dull, the premise rushed (but felt so long at 67 pages), and the supernatural could have been much better handled. I'm very disappointed.
Christian Paula
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it
What a strange story. Unreliable narrator, an experiment gone wrong, an exile both necessary and not. In the lead up to reading Middlemarch, I wanted a small sample, but The Lifted Veil may not be it.
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
It pains me to give George Eliot two stars.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A novella not to be missed. Deliciously disconcerting and gloomy!
classic reverie
I am slowly working my way through as much as I can of the books by my favorite authors and George Eliot is one, having read "Middlemarch", "Adam Bede" and "The Mill in the Floss", loving them all, I decided on "The Lifted Veil" next after hearing an OTR, Old Time Radio, version which I will comment on my spoiler section below.

George Eliot shows her genius by brining a terrifyingly scenario of a man's struggle to live life with insights whose origins are unknown and to a sensitive nature which m
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rather dark novella told by Latimer, its central character, coming to the end of his life which has been interesting, if totally lacking in worldly success. The world saw him as a weedy man, frequently ill and possibly mentally unstable. But his light was well hidden under the bushel which he kept with him in his dark corner. The world belonged more to his successful father, Latimer's own wife, Bertha, and his sturdier and successful elder brother of whom he speaks (and of many others?) knowin ...more
Emma Getz
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-for-a-class
This story has all of the Mary Shelley-esque gothic, science fiction vibes I love while at the same time has the Percy Shelley-esque lust for life and view of humanity so basically, George Eliot is my dream author. Also Edward Cullen has nothing on Latimer.
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Mary Ann Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She was born in 1819 at a farmstead in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, where her father was estate manager. Mary Ann, the youngest child and a favorite of her father's, received a good education for a young woman of her day. Influenced by a ...more
“We learn words by rote, but not their meaning; that must be paid for with our life-blood, and printed in the subtle fibres of our nerves.” 34 likes
“I have never fully unbosomed myself to any human being; I have never been encouraged to trust much in the sympathy of my fellow men. But we have all a chance of meeting with some pity, some tenderness, some charity, when we are dead: it is the living only who cannot be forgiven - the living only from whom men's indulgence and reverence are held off, like the rain by the hard east wind. While the heart beats, bruise it - it is your only opportunity; while the eye can still turn towards you with moist, timid entreaty, freeze it with an icy unanswering gaze; while the ear, that delicate messenger to the inmost sanctuary of the soul, can still take in the tones of kindness, put it off with hard civility, or sneering compliment, or envious affectation of indifference; while the creative brain can still throb with the sense of injustice, with the yearning for brotherly recognition - make haste - oppress it with your ill-considered judgements, your trivial comparisons, your careless misrepresentations. The heart will by and by be still - ubi saeoa indignatio ulterius cor lacerate nequit; the eye will cease to entreat; the ear will be deaf; the brain will have ceased from all wants as well as from all work. Then your charitable speeches may find vent; then you may remember and pity the toil and the struggle and the failure; then you may give due honour to the work achieved; then you may find extenuation for errors, and may consent to bury them ("The Lifted Veil")” 15 likes
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