Saturday, April 19, 2014

Middlemarch: A Note On Chapter 54, Book 6

Finally, and at last, sexual desire in Middlemarch.

If this isn't sexual desire, couched to be sure, layered into other needs and motives too to be sure, then I'm a monkey's uncle and I'll tell you where to send the bananas:

...Ch 54: ...The silent colloquy was perhaps only the more earnest because underneath and through it all there was always the deep longing which had really determined her to come to Lowick. The longing was to see Will Ladislaw. She did not know if any good would come of their meeting: she was helpless; her hands had been tied from making up to him for any unfairness in his lot. But her soul thirsted to see him....

But to dwell on the presence of sexual desire in Ch 54, even as it seems out in the more or less open--it is after all a Victorian novel-- for the first time in the novel, is to do Chapter 54 cheap.

I had wondered whether after Casaubon's death there would/could be anything as psychologically penetrating as Eliot's dissection of Casaubon and Dorothea and the terrible negative dynamics of their relationship.

No need to wonder.

In the meeting between her and Will Laidislaw, the complexity of the psychological and social forces working against their being straight with each other and professing their love for each other, or at least offering some understandable sign of it, is rendered with such complexity and power that my head is still spinning.

Would that I had the will and the energy to try to analyze more formally some of what's that's going on there. The dynamics and layers of meaning are inexhaustible.

Which, on a different point, screams out against the move to theory in academic English, crowding out close reading and appreciation of the text, theory seemingly being concerned with everything but what is in the text on the text's terms, which is to say, on literature's terms.

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