Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot Download (read online) free eBook (PDF ePub Kindle)

Scenes of Clerical Life

My only merit must lie in the faithfulness with which I represent to you the humble experience of an ordinary fellow-mortal.

When Scenes of Clerical Life, George Eliot’s first novel, was published anonymously in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in 1857, it was immediately recognized, in the words of Saturday Review, as ‘the production of a peculiar and remarkable writer’. The

When Scenes of Clerical Life, George Eliot’s first novel, was published anonymously in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in 1857, it was immediately recognized, in the words of Saturday Review, as ‘the production of a peculiar and remarkable writer’. The first readers, including Dickens and Thackeray, were struck by its humorous irony, the truthfulness of its presentation of the lives of ordinary men and women, and its compassionate acceptance of human weakness.

The three stories that make up the Scenes, ‘The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton’, ‘Mr Gilfil’s Love Story’, and ‘Janet’s Repentance’, foreshadow George Eliot’s major work, and their success gave her the confidence to become one of the greatest English novelists.
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    Sara

    Jun 23, 2017

    rated it
    it was amazing

    Recommends it for:
    Serious readers or Classics lovers

    While the first story in this collection would only garner a 3.5 rating from me, the other two more than make up for it and thus find me giving the book a firm 5-stars.

    This is not technically a novel, but a collection of three stories that are all centered around the clergy in the same area of Milby and Shepperton, England. We meet, and are told the stories of, three separate clergyman who serve the district at separate times.

    The first story is titled, The Sad Fortunes of the Rev. Amos Barton

    This is not technically a novel, but a collection of three stories that are all centered around the clergy in the same area of Milby and Shepperton, England. We meet, and are told the stories of, three separate clergyman who serve the district at separate times.

    The first story is titled,
    The Sad Fortunes of the Rev. Amos Barton
    , and his fortunes are indeed sad. I liked the story and caught glimpses of George Eliot’s masterful style, but I never felt overly attached to any of the characters and did not relate on an emotional level. Here is the shadow of greater things to come, I thought.

    The thing we look forward to often comes to pass, but never precisely in the way imagined to ourselves.

    Little did I know that the greater things were to be found in the second story of the series,
    Mr. Gilfil’s Love Story
    . Here is a man who did touch and pull at my heartstrings. Here is a story with depth and meaning, that keeps you captivated beginning to end. I could feel George Eliot blossoming as she wrote. Maynard Gilfil is one of the finest and sweetest characters in Eliot’s fine fiction.

    But it is with men as with trees: if you lop off their finest branches, into which they were pouring their young life-juice, the wounds will be healed over with some rough boss, some odd excrescence; and what might have been a grand tree expanding into liberal shade, is but a whimsical misshapen trunk. Many an irritating fault, many an unlovely oddity, has come of a hard sorrow, which has crushed and maimed the nature just when it was expanding into plenteous beauty…

    And, finally, the crowning glory is
    Janet’s Repentance
    , a story of reclamation and salvation and hope. This one brought me to tears, for I could not fail to feel Janet’s desperation and Mr. Tryan’s martyrdom at the hands of a society that purposely failed to appreciate or understand him. There is a sweetness and a sense of feeling that permeates this story that reminded me of why I loved The Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch so much. There is moral instruction, without preaching, and there is example that is uplifting and yet ever human.

    It is apt to be so in this life, I think. While we are coldly discussing a man’s career, sneering at his mistakes, blaming his rashness, and labeling his opinions–’he is Evangelical and narrow’, or ‘Latitudinarian and Pantheistic’ or ‘Anglican and supercilious’–that man, in his solitude, is perhaps shedding hot tears because his sacrifice is a hard one, because strength and patience are failing him to speak the difficult word, and do the difficult deed.

    Could we not all take a lesson from that passage. Do unto others.

    …everywhere there come sweet flowers without our foresight or labour. We reap what we sow, but Nature has love over and above that justice, and gives us shadow and blossom and fruit that spring from no planting of ours.

    And finally:

    They might give piety to much that was only puritanic egoism; they might call many things sin that were not sin; but they had at least the feeling that sin was to be avoided and resisted, and colour-blindness, which many mistake drab for scarlet, is better than total blindness, which sees no distinction of colour at all.

    I am happiest when I close a book and feel that I have something worthwhile and meaningful to take away, that the impact is not temporary and will last, perhaps forever, in the part of the soul that craves instruction. Today I am happy.


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