The Rise of the Private Self in Genesis One-Three
Whooley, Amanda

Deep within the narrative of George Eliot’s Middlemarch there is a vision and a passage that haunts me. The vision is of Mr. Causabon: a self-proclaimed scholar with blinking eyes, an empty voice, and a weak bodily frame. He is alone, hunched over, and tormented by his perpetually unwritten “Key to all Mythologies”. Despite my protestations, I recognize myself in Mr. Causabon and this vision excites some of my deepest sentiments, fears, and self-loathing: Frustration with my inability to gaze steadily at the objects I most want to embrace, fear of my desire to reduce the world’s mysteries to a singular rational explanation, and sadness at the thought of life ending unshared and incomplete. Nonetheless, it is Eliot’s explication of Mr. Causabon’s melancholic life that haunts me the most. She writes: “For my part I am very sorry for him. It is an uneasy lot at best, to be what we call highly taught and yet not to enjoy: to be present at this great spectacle of life and never to be liberated from a small hungry shivering self ---never to be fully possessed by the glory we behold, never to have our consciousness rapturously transformed into the vividness of a thought, the ardour of a passion, the energy of an action, but always to be scholarly and uninspired, ambitious and timid, scrupulous and dim-sighted.”

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/ijpt.v3n1a19