Sunday, February 27, 2011

a quote from George Eliot

I came upon this quote from an 1970 letter by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) to a woman friend. It is quoted in A.S. Byatt's Passions of the Mind:Selected Essays (NY, Random, 1992)

"We women are always in danger of living too exclusively in the affections, and although our affections are perhaps the best gift we have, we ought also to have our share of the more independent life - some joy in things for their own sake. It is piteous to see the helplessness of sweet women when their affections have been disappointed, because all their teaching has been that they can only delight in study of any kind for the sake of personal love. They have never contemplated an independent delight in ideas as an experience which they could confess without being laughed at. Yet surely women need this sort of defence against passionate affectation even more than men."

Eliot then quoted Margaret Fuller on the "petty power" of the "ignorance and childish vanity" of uneducated women.

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