George Eliot Anticipates Modernism Again and Again

Dear Tracy,

I made a vow last night to leave the house when I woke up and, so far, it’s on. I’m sitting at a coffee shop with tepid coffee, which is a disappointment (apparently the theme of the holidays?), but what I’m currently reading (GE!) is, fortunately, never a let-down.

Someone sitting close to me is speaking on his cell and discussing his flight on the 29. (The same day as my flight!) Now he’s advising his interlocutor to “rest up.” Now he’s discussing the suit he will pack for New Years’ Eve. I should probably stop eavesdropping, but his words and tone and laugh are a total comfort.

My copy of Daniel Deronda is now covered with marginalia that indicates how “George Eliot Anticipates Modernism” (–dunno how to speak about these things unobnoxiously yet, and perhaps I should just stop thinking about them in such terms). This particular passage–about a return to hut culture–hit rather (literally) close to home. Mopey Rex is talking to his sister after having been romantically rejected by Gwendolyn, who herself was left crying to her mother: “I shall never love anybody. I can’t love people. I hate them!” Poor Rex! But, oh, poor Gwendolyn too!

“I’ll tell you what I’m thinking of, Nannie. I will go to Canada, or somewhere of that sort.” (Rex had not studied the character of our colonial possessions.)

“Oh, Rex, not for always!”

“Yes, to get my bread there. I should like to build a hut, and work hard at clearing, and have everything wild about me, and a great wide quiet.”

Empathy is abounding today, apparently. Do you feel for me with my lukewarm drink?

With love,


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