Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Our Heroine Phones It In

Our heroine is tired, well and truly tired. I watched Lost tonight with my friend Kristi; then I complained about it for an hour; then I mentally rewrote the entire episode (nay, the entire show this season) in my head.

These mental Olympics have exhausted me and I want to go to bed, but I feel I owe you a literary post, as I've read further in the Iliad, and I have some things I want to say (especially about Hector), but that will have to wait til tomorrow.

In the meantime, I want to share with you one of my all-time favorite excerpts from literature. It is a quote from Middlemarch, by George Eliot, which is quite possibly the novel I love best in all the world, for reasons I will share some other, less late, time. The novel's heroine is Dorothea, a lady of high ideals who wants to do great good in the world. Alas, social circumstances constrain her, and she lives a long but rather conventional life, "feeling that there was always something better which she might have done, if she had only been better and known better." The novel's final paragraph always cracks my heart a little, I think because I find the narrator's gentle sympathy for Dorothea unspeakably poignant.

Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name upon the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Just typing that in got our heroine a little sniffly. So I'm off to find a Kleenex. Good night!

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