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The Lifted Veil

The Lifted Veil by George Eliot
By: (1819-1880)

George Eliot’s 1859 novella, The Lifted Veil, departs radically from the grounded realism of her longer and better known works, such as Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. Its tone calls to mind the works of middlebrow Sensationists, like Wilkie Collins (The Moonstone), and of some of the better known authors of Victorian era horror writings, such as Bram Stoker (Dracula) and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein.

Eliot here explores mystical themes, considering the world of phenomena which are felt but not seen. Yet in doing so she suggests that the apparent clairvoyance of her main character, Latimer, may in fact be, at least in part, psychological expressions of his early life experiences. This view is supported by the fact that most of Latimer’s vision-based predictions of how people will behave and events unfold do not, in the end, turn out as he had foretold.

Much of this work’s power and complexity lie in Latimer’s relationship with Bertha, whom he ultimately, unhappily, marries. Bertha is the one person whose thoughts and feelings he is not able to read, raising the question: What is it about Bertha that renders her inaccessible to his psychic penetration – and what does this tell us about her, and about him. (Introduction by Kirsten Wever)

First Page:

THE LIFTED VEIL

Give me no light, great Heaven, but such as turns To energy of human fellowship; No powers beyond the growing heritage That makes completer manhood.

CHAPTER I

The time of my end approaches. I have lately been subject to attacks of angina pectoris ; and in the ordinary course of things, my physician tells me, I may fairly hope that my life will not be protracted many months. Unless, then, I am cursed with an exceptional physical constitution, as I am cursed with an exceptional mental character, I shall not much longer groan under the wearisome burthen of this earthly existence. If it were to be otherwise if I were to live on to the age most men desire and provide for I should for once have known whether the miseries of delusive expectation can outweigh the miseries of true provision. For I foresee when I shall die, and everything that will happen in my last moments.

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... Continue reading book >>


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Reviews (Rated: 3 Stars - 1 review)

Reviewer: - December 29, 2014
Subject: The Lifted Veil
What a mournful tale, read in an appropriately mournful manner. To be listen to only when one is light of heart and the day is pleasant, otherwise you'd likely give up on life as too sad to bother with.


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