Thursday, July 3, 2008

"[A] process and an unfolding"

On George Eliot and human freedom:

If science could see freedom, what would it look like? If it wanted to find the will, where would it search? Eliot believed that the mind's ability to alter itself was the source of our freedom. In Middlemarch, Dorothea — a character who, like Eliot herself, never stopped changing — is reassured that the mind "is not cut in marble — it is not something solid and unalterable. It is something living and changing." Dorothea finds hope in this idea, since it means that the soul "may be rescued and healed." Like Jane Austen, a literary forebear, Eliot reserved her highest praise for characters brave enough to embrace the possibilities of change. Just as Elizabeth Bennet escapes her own prejudices, so does Dorothea recover from her early mistakes. As Eliot wrote, "we are a process and an unfolding."

Jonah Lehrer, Proust Was a Neuroscientist (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007), 38
[Lehrer has misquoted. Eliot writes in Middlemarch that "character too is a process and an unfolding." Correction added February 7, 2010.]

comments: 1

j said...

I'll add this to my reading list, too. thanks (again)