Friday, May 16, 2008

George Eliot : Revealing the Human Condition

Joy Comes in the Morning-"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning," goes the psalm that provides the title for Jonathan Rosen's second novel, an exploration of love, death, and faith at the end of the 20th century. Rosen, the editorial director of the Nextbook/Schocken publishing series, discusses why rabbis are like strippers, and what's become of the soul in the modern novel.

Inspired by Jonathan Rosen's latest book, dwelling into George Eliot,I find parallels in both my parents train of thought.Despite the horrors they witnessed and endured,dealing with death,survival and destruction,both survivors,one of Auschwitz and the other one of a gulag in Siberia, I was left only with their vision of Life.
Jonathan is fascinated by birds,as well as I am.The bird is very significant for me. In 1961,when my father after a zigzag moving from Sao Paulo and Rio and back,we landed in a part of Sao Paulo,called Sao Miguel Paulista.I was eleven years old, studying in Rio,in a school I loved ,surrounded by teachers and the principal who were more than a family to me.
I was given a fountain pen by the principal. He noted my way of writing and to encourage me more, he thought that his symbolic jest would always be a reminder to ignite my imagination.
At the same time ,training for the Spring Games,I was going to compete as a swimmer for the school, Colegio Anglo Americano,in Botafogo.
After a failed attempt to be reunited with Aleksander,my father's brother ,who left Poland before the war and moved to Brazil, living the life of a Great Gatsby,in a penthouse on Posto 6,in Copacabana, we were forced to leave abruptly to this forsaken place in the outskirts of Sao Paulo.
My father a chemical and textile engineer,was off to work for Nitroquimica, a chemical compound. We lived few yards away from the radioactive river,Rio Tiete.
There was no school in the area,so my mother and I,would try to survive in this dead end situation until ,the light would turn on our path.I would spend most of my time,in the neighbor's backyard, playing with their chickens,read books and listen to the radio.
My mother got me a canary.We named him Fabiolo,after the brother of Belgium's Queen Fabiola.Her brother,whose real name was Jaime,was nicknamed Fabiolo.
My crested canary,my Fabiolo,was very whimsical.On the first day,when we brought him home, he proved to be very tame,quite unusual. He would stay on my finger or fly over onto my head,when I played piano or recognize me when he heard me coming up the steps , into the house,by whistling in a certain way,besides his melodious song.
Then, one day my father took us back to Sao Paulo,and I returned to my school,which I attended since kindergarten, Colegio Rio Branco.Dona Soledade,my principal was always there .Her smile is printed in my mind.
A beautiful lady with class,I never had realized how much she cared for me,until many years later,after I had left Brazil, I wrote to her,answering to the card,Dona Soledade had sent me,at Galeria Multipla,where I had a solo show of my drawings and collages in 1975.
I could and never did forgive myself for such an oversight.
Dona Soledade,wrote back to me in 1979.
She stated that she forgave me and sent along the first of my written words,when I was seven years old.
She was sure that I would be absolutely surprised,that she kept in her archives, these papers and that was the reason for her trying to reach me years ago.stating that she observed since when I was so very young,through my drawings, how I saw Life, already then.'The Sun,trees,mountains and a pink roof.It was all Life!And she reminds me,of how my mother was always watching over me.I was a little rebel,vivacious, and restless."Your blue eyes,were, always, asking for affection.Oh, how I remember you!"
"I was very upset,for you not responding to my card, when I finally was able to find you.I even considered you to be ungrateful as the heart of your teacher and friend become very sad.I realized, reading your letter today, that you were in a state of transition.I am very thankful that you wrote to me and to have news about you.Your sucesses,victories and good happenings.And what does not go well at times, is part of our daily endurance.Just,keep in mind, dear Marguerita, that the Sun does not shine everyday.Just enjoy the good moments and prepare yourself for the bad ones.

Dona Soledade kept writing to me several years,as we maintained a dialogue from then on, mentioning that her age was affecting her sight,being hard for her to write and then I am afraid that she passed away.
Dona Soledade's words remained in my heart forever , added to my parent's.
She passed on to me,what she had learned when she was 15 years old.
These words served for her,as an inspiration to face good and bad moments that Fate will set upon our path."
Nao sejas pusilanime nas agruras da vida e nem exaltado nos momentos de prazer".Manter o equilibrio e saber viver.Nao se empolgue,pois com os sucessos.Nao se abata,tambem,com criticas e insucessos.Tudo passa.Procure ser estavel.Voce assim, encontrara, na vida, a verdadeira razao de ser.

A vida e um eterno caminhar.Caminhe,caminhe,minha filha.O que tera de ser seu,vira ao seu encontro.

Like George Meredith, George Eliot,is the embodiment of philosophy in fiction," as Oscar Wilde remarked in 1897. Virginia Wolfe called Eliot's Middlemarch "one of the few English novels for grown-up people." Mary Ann Evans was twelve at the time of the Great Reform Bill (1832), which forms the historical context of Middlemarch.

Mary Ann Evans, born in 1819 at Arbory Park ("Griff") in Astley near Coventry, was the gifted daughter of Robert Evans, the Warwickshire estate agent for the Earl of Lonsdale and the model for such yeoman characters as Adam Bede (which was Charles Dickens's nickname for the novelist from 1859). By his previous marriage Evans had an older daughter and a son. At her mother's death in 1836 Marion was the only woman in the house, at which point she became her father's housekeeper.Her perceptive and pointed criticisms of Austen and Dickens are close to modern attitudes. And yet her literary intentions included appreciation of goodness, perception of reality, and precision of expression (both for herself and her reader).

And yet her literary intentions included appreciation of goodness, perception of reality, and precision of expression (both for herself and her reader). She admired the simple, homely style of the early Flemish painters such as Breughel, a taste which is reflected in such 'Dutch' interior scenes as the harvest supper in Adam Bede, Chapter 17, in which she extols the works of the seventeenth-century Dutch masters. She attacked literary conventions in character delineation and typing, stereotypical plotting, and use of setting as mere backdrop. Adam Bede demonstrates Eliot's belief that art should be modeled on life, not on other works of art. Her theme is that happiness is the reward life gives for tolerance, compassion, and understanding.

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