Friday, July 13, 2012

Thoughts: The Lifted Veil by George Eliot



"Just a month from this day, on September 20, 1850, I shall be sitting in this chair, in this study, at ten o’clock at night, longing to die, weary of incessant insight and foresight, without delusions and without hope."

The Lifted Veil by George Eliot begins when Latimer, the protagonist, tells us about the day of his death. He even gives us specifics, like the exact date and the fact that he’s going to die of angina pectoris (had to look that one up). He then continues to tell us about his “gift” of foresight, and how it affected his life.

The only thing I’ve read by George Eliot is Silas Marner (because I’m lazy like that), so I’m really no expert on her style and common themes. However, I can say that no two works could be more different from each other than Silas Marner and The Lifted Veil. Silas Marner made me feel like I was sitting by the hearth, a warm fire merrily burning away. The Lifted Veil, on the other hand, made me think of candlelight, dark hallways, and mad scientists—a bit like Frankenstein, to be honest.

The book made me wonder about the effect knowing the future would have on my life. What if I saw how relationships would end before they even began? Would I be brave enough to risk getting hurt or would I run like hell? It’s hard to tell. Latimer is actually kind of fascinating that way. He saw how he was going to end up, but he still, excuse the cliché, went for broke. The crazy bastard.

Ergo, the lifted veil.

The veil was lifted for Latimer. He didn’t attempt to change things (which, I think, was admirable and stupid at the same time), but he became obsessed with his visions, especially when he found out he was getting what he wanted. He ended up living in his foreshadowed future more than the present.

This is basically what I learned from this book: No matter how hard we try, we can’t lift the veil, which is actually a good thing. We can stay focused on the present, and realize how important every single moment is. Why worry about a future you can’t control, when you can sing along to Katy Perry’s The One that Got Away?

To end this post, I’m going to quote my fifteen-year-old hipster cousin: YOLO. You only live once. So, go do something stupid now. Like tell your co-worker you think he’s one sexy beast or book that flight to the exotic country (Thailand? Sweden? Panama?) you’ve always wanted to see. YOLO.

6 comments:

Trisha said...

I think your statement - He ended up living in his foreshadowed future, more than the present - really captures the problem for me. If you had visions of the future would you enjoy your present or would you just constantly be anticipating the future - whether good or bad?

Interesting book!

mooderino said...

I've been meaning to read Middlemarch for about, oh, twenty years. Really must do that.

mood
Moody Writing
@mooderino
The Funnily Enough

Claudia said...

I disliked Latimer, because he was OMG-so-whiny, but the theme was really interesting. And now I'm picturing Latimer justifying all his silly decisions with YOLO - "I know I shouldn't but I'm gonna marry this chick anyway. YOLO." Awesome post :)

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I didn't know George Eliot wrote books like this - I thought they were all cosy, roaring hearth type numbers.

Zibilee said...

This book brings up some interesting thoughts, from you and me both. I have been in the middle of Middlemarch for months now, and something about the style is just hard for me to digest. I am liking it, but since I haven't read many classics, it is slow going because of the language. I need to get back to that. It's way overdue for some listening time again. I do like the sound of this one though. It sounds sort of mystical and dark, very much what I am into right now. Excellent review, as usual Darlyn. :)

Vintage Reading said...

George Eliot has been on my mind, too. I'm thinking of reading Daniel Deronda. Due to read some Vic Lit!

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