Widzicie, prawda, co dziś rebloguję? No! Dziękuję Pewnej Pannie, za to że mogłam jej wydrukować ten tekst i przy okazji zobaczyć, że jest to tekst z New York Timesa, że napisała go Joyce Carol Oates, bo to tak, jakby artykuł w Polityce napisał nie Dehnel, nie Witkowski i nie Masłowska, tylko, no, Szymborska.
I jeszcze takie cudne zdjęcie.
To tam mieszkam. Za-mieszkam.
Joyce Carol Oates recenzuje książkę o tym jak autorkę Rebekę Mead (Rebecca Mead) zainspirowało czytanie innej autorki, piszącej, co oczywiście wszyscy wiemy, pod męskim pseudonimem: George Eliot. Zaczyna jednak od długiej i zabawnej listy innych książek opisujących czytanie innych książek.
She “makes Middlemarchers of us all”: George Eliot, left, and her admirer Rebecca Mead. Photographs: Left, from London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images; right, by Elisabeth C. Prochnik
zainspirowaną czytaniem książki Eliota Middlemarch:
A oto fragment tekstu Joyce Carol Oates:
… Rebecca Mead’s “My Life in Middlemarch” is a beguilingly straightforward, resolutely orthodox and unshowy account of the writer’s lifelong admiration for George Eliot and for “Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life” in particular — the Victorian novel, first published in the early 1870s, that was described by Virginia Woolf as “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.”
There is no irony or postmodernist posturing in Mead’s forthright, unequivocal and unwavering endorsement of George Eliot as both a great novelist and a role model for bright, ambitious, provincially born girls like herself, eager to escape their intellectually impoverished hometowns — “Oxford was my immediate goal, but anywhere would do.” At the age of 17, when Mead first reads “Middlemarch,” her identification with Eliot’s 19-year-old heroine, Dorothea Brooke, is immediate and unqualified, and it will last for decades. The book’s theme, “a young woman’s desire for a substantial, rewarding, meaningful life,” was “certainly one with which Eliot had been long preoccupied… And it’s a theme that has made many young women, myself included, feel that ‘Middlemarch’ is speaking directly to us. How on earth might one contain one’s intolerable, overpowering, private yearnings? Where is a woman to put her energies? How is she to express her longings? What can she do to exercise her potential and affect the lives of others? What, in the end, is a young woman to do with herself?”
Today such earnest questions are more likely to be found in young adult fiction, but Victorian writers took seriously their duties, as Mead puts it, to “instruct and enlighten.” Eliot’s “inspiring principle,” she adds, was to create work that would “gladden and chasten human hearts.” Nor are these questions likely to have been applicable to Victorian women of the working class: Dorothea Brooke is the daughter of a well-to-do family, and financial concern will not guide her life choices. Instead, not unlike Henry James’s equally idealistic, naïve and well-to-do young heroine, Isabel Archer, in “The Portrait of a Lady,” Dorothea makes a disastrous marriage guided by bourgeois Victorian marital expectations: “The really delightful marriage must be that where your husband was a sort of father, and could teach you even Hebrew, if you wished it.”