[ Download eBook ] Scenes of Clerical LifeAuthor George Eliot – Freepe.co

My Only Merit Must Lie In The Faithfulness With Which I Represent To You The Humble Experience Of An Ordinary Fellow MortalWhen Scenes Of Clerical Life, George Eliot S First Novel, Was Published Anonymously In Blackwood S Edinburgh Magazine In , 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 WeaknessThe 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


10 thoughts on “Scenes of Clerical Life

  1. says:

    It is so much easier to say that a thing is black, than to discriminate the particular shade of brown, blue, or green, to which it really belongs It is so much easier to make up your mind that your neighbor is good for nothing, than to enter into all the circumstances that would oblige you to modify that opinion Eliot uses her characteristic empathy to look behind the scenes of clerical life portrayed in this volume She tells three stories, connected in that they take place in and around the fictional English town of Milby and each concerns a certain Anglican clergyman whose religious views are under criticism In The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton, we watch the Reverend picked apart by his parishioners, and then see how his good deeds lead to misfortune It is unsparingly tragic Mr Gilfil s Love Story is also sad, but is high romance than tragedy, full of chivalry and unselfish passion The culmination is reached in Janet s Repentance By this time your heart has been pummeled by the first two scenes, and you are ready for a happy ending But Eliot, true to form, has created a real life heroine and hero They struggle with their own sins and their purgatory is harrowing, but this final installment ends with a beautiful triumph of the soul.Each story has a long, drawn out build up, and a couple of times I was confused by the timeframe or narrative point of view Otherwise I found them gorgeous, dense, and moving, and I loved all three.I can t resist a few thoughts Have you ever received a gift box that you thought contained one item but turned out to have multiple extra gifts tucked under the wrapping That s what a George Eliot story is like You think it is one gift, but when you open it, you realize it s overflowing with extra little surprise gems And I could say that reading this book took effort, but that would be like complaining about the trouble it takes to unwrap all those extra gifts Like almost missing one of hidden items in the gift package, as I read, I often thought, Oh, that sentence And I almost read too fast and missed its impact Here s an example of one such loaded sentence I, at least, hardly ever look at a bent old man, or a wizened old woman, but I see also, with my mind s eye, that Past of which they are the shrunken remnant, and the unfinished romance of rosy cheeks and bright eyes seems sometimes of feeble interest and significance, compared with that drama of hope and love which has long ago reached its catastrophe, and left the poor soul, like a dim and dusty stage, with all its sweet garden scenes and fair perspectives overturned and thrust out of sight Not the fastest reading, right But worth it, don t you think I also kept thinking of the Virginia Woolf quote that Eliot s Middlemarch was one of the few English novels written for grown up people, which I believe applies to all of Eliot s work What does Woolf mean by this One possibility is that being a grown up is about handling the truth things don t happen the way you plan everyone dies people are complicated than you think they are Eliot is particularly good at that last one A quote from the author presented in the introduction may provide the key to her grown up, empathetic style In a letter to a friend, she wrote, our moral progress may be measured by the degree in which we sympathize with individual suffering and individual joy Each of the stories in this book was about unique and specific individuals Each surprised me And maybe they helped me to grow up just a little bit .


  2. says:

    While the first story in this collection would only garner a 3.5 rating from me, the other two 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 , 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.


  3. says:

    This collection of three stories, about the lives and work of clergymen in and near the small English town of Milby, was George Eliot s first fictional work As the Penguin Classics cover notes, it may seem odd that she chose church life for her stories, since she had broken with orthodox Christian belief some time earlier After reading scholarly analyses of the Gospels, George Eliot had become convinced that they were essentially mythological stories And, the introductory essay by David Lodge explains, this loss of belief led her to a stance of bold freethinking she refused to attend church and for a time adopted a tone of confident secular scorn toward defenses of Christian faith There is none of that tone in the Clerical Life stories They are, instead, beautiful stories of compassion and kindness, in which the church figures are often portrayed sympathetically than otherwise The plot of each can be told in a sentence In the first story, the feelings of the parishioners toward their mediocre but well meaning curate shift from laughing disregard to tender concern after calamity befalls his household George Eliot had a rare power for making the commonplace moving and profound, and that power was already evident in this book If the plots are simple ones, Eliot s purpose and message are somewhat less so Two of the stories begin with energetic rifts in the community over some item of worship or church practice e.g., Will the congregation sing a psalm or a modern hymn for a newly married couple Will Sunday evening lectures by the curate be tolerated Will extemporaneous sermons in the evangelical style corrupt the congregation As people take sides against their neighbors over these issues, while giggling or sleeping through the sermons themselves, you the reader are lulled at first into imagining that Eliot s project is a straightforward satire on the irrelevancy of much of what the Church does It isn t Just as you re chuckling or shaking your head at one of the characters along with the chorus of gossipy townspeople, something happens to jar you into recognition of a profound human need And as your sympathy is awakened, so is the town s characters cast off their pettiness, and their better natures shine forth Even the selfish and flawed characters reveal admirable capacities You re left regretting your own assumptions about the characters, having, as in Middlemarch, been taught a lesson by Eliot about hasty judgments What, then, is Eliot s point about the Church Why did she choose clerical life as the backdrop for her stories My sense is that she s conveying that, in the religion of humanity she s espousing, Christian doctrine actually gets a lot of it right, and may be one of its best expressions And by furnishing plentiful chances to serve others, life in a church community provides an avenue toward your own growth and fulfillment It s as if she s saying that religious precepts, even if founded on mistaken beliefs, call us in the right direction for any kind of purposeful achievement in life No man can begin to mould himself on a faith or an idea without rising to a higher order of experience a principle of subordination, of self mastery, has been introduced into his nature he is no longer a mere bundle of impressions, desires, and impulses Eliot s claim for the mediocre curate in her first story is, at first, a modest one made with her characteristic gentle humor by having the illusion that he is admired and doing much good, he is sustained to do a little good By the end of the story, however, when he has unintentionally provided an occasion for his parishioners sympathy and generosity, he has done immense good Is there anything in Eliot s writing relevant to today s reader If I were to describe my generation in broad terms, I would say that not many of us delve regularly into the Bible in search of enlightenment, yet we often still find ourselves drawn to church, especially as we reach parenting years If this is a correct perception, then Eliot has a lot to say to us Even aside from its message, there is much to admire in Scenes of Clerical Life, especially if you enjoy Victorian literature If the stories are not fast paced, they are compelling, and told with an utter command of the English language that it is hard to find in today s novels Sentences go on for a paragraph, paragraphs go on for a page, but her prose throughout is lucid and elegant I also especially enjoy her occasional interjections of dry but gentle humor This is a good litmus test if you find these two sentences delightful and amusing, you will probably like the book If you find them annoying, it may not be for you Passage 1 Coffee despatched, the two young men walked out through the open window, and joined the ladies on the lawn, while Sir Christopher made his way to the library, solemnly followed by Rupert, his pet bloodhound, who, in his habitual place at the Baronet s right hand, behaved with great urbanity during dinner but when the cloth was drawn, invariably disappeared under the table, apparently regarding the claret jug as a mere human weakness, which he winked at, but refused to sanction Passage 2 The rooks were cawing with many voiced monotony, apparently by a remarkable approximation to human intelligence finding great conversational resources in the change of weather I love the passages, and the book.


  4. says:

    Eliot s first novel is like three short stories thematically linked through religious examination, female prerogative and compassionate love A way for the budding author to control the plots without getting lost and yet while reading the assured prose one doubts that a possible outcome Eliot breathes such life into her characters, examining them in complex intellectual, spiritual and emotional terms, so much so that one is forced to admit our current fiction writers are all defeated by personal political narcissism The balance she finds between men and women, faith and reason, is so subtle and ambiguous that the work becomes nothing less than high art and should be a template for how an artist engages with the world around them.


  5. says:

    4.5 Me encantaron los tres relatos que componen este volumen El arrepentimiento de Janet me pareci espectacular Costumbrismo con una cr tica sutil pero a la vez despiadada a muchos usos y costumbres de la poca Por momentos me recordaba a la moralidad de Jane Austen pero por momentos m s cida Mary Ann Evans se convertido en una de mis favoritas.


  6. says:

    I received this from Blog A Penguin in return for which we had to post a review on the Penguin blog which is now defunct, I think It was easy because I loved this book and it made me wonder why I waste my time reading some contemporary stuff most of which never warrants re reading like the classics do.There was some silly stuff in the intro about Eliot being conflicted over her loss of faith and the clerical life she depicts I don t see the problem These are affectionate portraits of ordinary people and their faults and foibles, and there s nothing unkind or strident in any of it Eliot wrote as Austen and Trollope did, with a gentle wit and clever satire, relying on the perspicacity of her readers to discern the issues that mattered So she knows how the wife of Amos Bates is worn out by child bearing how the social strata of English country life could trifle with a foundling s heart and break it and how the religious controversies of the day were all so much of a storm in a tea cup I loved these gentle stories and am sorry to come to the end of them Maybe I should read Middlemarch again


  7. says:

    Scenes of a Clerical Life was Eliot s first piece of creative writing, and it has the well drawn characters, the psychological insights, the wit, the sympathy, and the evocation of the English countryside and rural life that came to a fuller fruition in Middlemarch It also has a touch of the Gothic, a style that the Victorians loved.After it was published in 1857 Dickens wrote to George Eliot, who was not then know to be a woman I am I presume bound to adopt the name that it pleases that excellent writer to assume I can suggest no better one but I should have been strongly disposed, if I had been left to my own devices, to address the said writer as a woman I have observed what seemed to me such womanly touches in those moving fictions, that the assurance on the title page is insufficient to satisfy me even now If they originated with no woman, I believe that no man ever before had the art of making himself mentally so like a woman since the world began I m so wrapped up with the Victorians, not least through reading this book, that I wrote a blog about it


  8. says:

    I wouldn t have stuck with this if it weren t for the author Because I love George Eliot s later books, I figured these 3 short stories would be worth reading even if they started out slow and ended up melodramatic and not quite believable How can people so conveniently, or unexpectedly, die I love George Eliot s insights and writing, and I enjoyed reading her first published work She definitely matured and improved as a writer by the time she wrote Silas Marner and Middlemarch A taste of George Eliot s wisdom Religious ideas have the fate of melodies, which, once set afloat in the world, are taken up by all sorts of instruments, some of them woefully coarse, feeble, or out of tune, until people are in danger of crying out that the melody itself is detestable We are poor plants buoyed up by the air vessels of our own conceit alas for us, if we get a few pinches that empty us of that windy self subsistence Nice distinctions are troublesome It is so much easier to say that a thing is black, than to discriminate the particular shade of brown, blue, or green, to which it really belongs It is so much easier to make up your mind that your neighbour is good for nothing, than to enter into all the circumstances that would oblige you to modify that opinion Any coward can fight a battle when he s sure of winning but give me the man who has pluck to fight when he s sure of losing That s my way, sir and there are many victories worse than a defeat Most people are neither extraordinarily silly, nor extraordinarily wicked, nor extraordinarily wise their eyes are neither deep and liquid with sentiment, nor sparkling with suppressed witticisms they have probably had no hairbreadth escapes or thrilling adventures their brains are certainly not pregnant with genius, and their passions have not manifested themselves at all after the fashion of a volcano Depend upon it, you would gain unspeakably if you would learn with me to see some of the poetry and the pathos, the tragedy and the comedy, lying in the experience of a human soul that looks out through dull grey eyes, and that speaks in a voice of quite ordinary tones The blessed work of helping the world forward, happily does not wait to be done by perfect men.


  9. says:

    I discovered this classic writer as a result of a scene from the latest CBC version of Anne of Green Gables in which Aunt Josephine gives Anne a book by George Eliot George Eliot was a woman writing under a pseudonym Published in 1857 serially in a magazine, the success of Scenes of Clerical Life encouraged the writer to pursue her career Lucy Maud Montgomery, born in 1874 would no doubt have been influenced by the stories that George Eliot artfully describes to us.The third, and longest story of this book, Janet s Repentance brought the Methodist dissenting sects history of that era to life for me George Eliot was well familiar with the Methodists as she has been described as having lived an earnestly Evangelical girlhood It is a thoroughly sympathetic and artful portrayal of a woman who comes under Methodist influence in the early 19th century To me, it brought a historical period that I have lately been reading in to life This is also important reading in a study of the role of women in that era.


  10. says:

    In my Penguin Classics edition there is an appendix How I Came to Write Fiction written by George Eliot and dated Dec 6 1857 in which she describes the background to this book That and the introduction by David Lodge proved enormously interesting in helping to portray how the book took shape It details what suggestions the publisher, Blackwood made when the stories were sent to him to be published in his magazine and how Eliot responded to his criticism The religious themes of the stories may not be of any great interest to the modern reader although I understand they were hot topics in their day but the stories are mainly well written Already Eliot is showing an ability to create and describe life in a small industrial town and people it with an array of believable characters from the pauper in the workhouse to the country knight in the manor house.Some of the writing is over sentimental and melodramatic but that was very much the fashion of the time There are flashes of brilliance and some humour amongst all the angst I thought the weakest of the novellas was Mr Gilfil s Love Story The main characters were boring, the hero too good to be true and the love interest not at all lovable but petulant and ill tempered Lots of animal imagery, I didn t count how many times Caterina was compared to a bird or a timid animal or a monkey but it was far too much and detracted from the narrative An experienced George Eliot would have handled it skilfully.I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the development of a great novelist and to any admirer of Eliot who, like me,has read all of her other books but overlooked this one.