Archive for the ‘middlemarch’ Category
Many years ago, I read Middlemarch. Partly just to say that I had, and then once I got going, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it’s one of the best novels I’ve ever read. Probably one of the best novels ever. But there are quite a lot of days at the moment when I wish I hadn’t. I am haunted by the spectre of Mr Casaubon.
Mr Casaubon has spent his whole life producing a lengthy, tedious reference work, ‘The Key to All Mythologies’. His work is dismissed as worthless by his young (gorgeous) nephew, Will Ladislaw (as played by Rufus Sewell in the BBC adaptation). Dorothea, Casaubon’s young, beautiful, earnest wife leaps to his defence, thinking that the nephew is too frivolous to understand the value of Casaubon’s work. But Ladislaw tells her that Mr Casaubon’s work has long-since been superseded. The reason Casaubon doesn’t know this is because he doesn’t read German.
Enough to send shivers down any scholar’s spine.
Here’s the beginning of ‘The Interpretation of the NT 1861-1986′ by Stephen Neill and Tom Wright. Looks like George Eliot was onto something.
Britain has always found it difficult to decide whether it is part of Europe or not. At times, as under William the Conqueror and throughout the Plantagenet period, the connexion was close, and the English Channel merely a troublesome accident of geography without religious or political significance. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Englishmen seemed to spend most of their time fighting everyone else in every conceivable part of the world; and it is not surprising that by the end of the Napoleonic era Britain, and the English Churches, were as much isolated from the continent of Europe as they ever had been in their history. There were exceptions; but it is probably true to say that, at the turn of the eighteenth century, hardly anyone in England was aware of the great things that had been happening in the intellectual world of Germany.