Quotes by George Eliot

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George Eliot is the pen name of Mary Anne Evans (22 November 1819 - 22 December 1880), who was an English novelist. She was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. Her novels, largely set in provincial England, are well known for their realism and psychological perspicacity.

She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure that her works were taken seriously. Female authors published freely under their own names, but Eliot wanted to ensure that she was not seen as merely a writer of romances. An additional factor may have been a desire to shield her private life from public scrutiny and to prevent scandals attending her relationship with the married George Henry Lewes. more

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There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms.

It is never too late to be what you might have been.
I like not only to be loved, but also to be told that I am loved. I am not sure that you are of the same kind. But the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave. This is the world of literature and speech and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.
There is no despair so absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow, when we have not yet known what it is to have suffered and be healed, to have despaired and have recovered hope.
For what is love itself, for the one we love best? An enfolding of immeasurable cares which yet are better than any joys outside our love.
Keep true, never be ashamed of doing right; decide on what you think is right and stick to it.
There is much pain that is quite noiseless; and vibrations that make human agonies are often a mere whisper in the roar of hurrying existence. There are glances of hatred that stab and raise no cry of murder; robberies that leave man or woman for ever beggared of peace and joy, yet kept secret by the sufferer --committed to no sound except that of low moans in the night, seen in no writing except that made on the face by the slow months of suppressed anguish and early morning tears. Many an inherited sorrow that has marred a life has been breathed into no human ear.
Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles. What do we live for if not to make the world less difficult for each other?
Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.
No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from.
Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.
Animals are such agreeable friends, they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.
Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.
But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.
Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are.
There are various orders of beauty, causing men to make fools of themselves in various styles... but there is one order of beauty which seems made to turn the heads not only of men, but of all intelligent mammals, even of women. It is a beauty like that of kittens, or very small downy ducks making gentle rippling noises with their soft bills, or babies just beginning to toddle and to engage in conscious mischief --a beauty with which you can never be angry, but that you feel ready to crush for inability to comprehend the state of mind into which it throws you.
The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.
Quarrel? Nonsense; we have not quarreled. If one is not to get into a rage sometimes, what is the good of being friends?
If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the best of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.
I desire no future that will break the ties with the past.
Perhaps the most delightful friendships are those in which there is much agreement, much disputation, and yet more personal liking.
To have in general but little feeling, seems to be the only security against feeling too much on any particular occasion.
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.
Our words have wings, but fly not where we would.
What do we live for; if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?
A supreme love, a motive that gives a sublime rhythm to a woman's life, and exalts habit into partnership with the soul's highest needs, is not to be had where and how she wills.
All meanings, we know, depend on the key of interpretation.
And when a woman's will is as strong as the man's who wants to govern her, half her strength must be concealment.
A mother's yearning feels the presence of the cherished child even in the degraded man.
What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?
A difference of taste in jokes is a great strain on the affections.
Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.
But human experience is usually paradoxical, that means incongruous with the phrases of current talk or even current philosophy.
Excellence encourages one about life generally; it shows the spiritual wealth of the world.
Those who trust us educate us.
When death comes it is never our tenderness that we repent from, but our severity.
It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.
The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history.
We women are always in danger of living too exclusively in the affections; and though our affections are perhaps the best gifts we have, we ought also to have our share of the more independent life -- some joy in things for their own sake. It is piteous to see the helplessness of some sweet women when their affections are disappointed -- because all their teaching has been, that they can only delight in study of any kind for the sake of a personal love. They have never contemplated an independent delight in ideas as an experience which they could confess without being laughed at. Yet surely women need this defense against passionate affliction even more than men.
Life is too precious to be spent in this weaving and unweaving of false impressions, and it is better to live quietly under some degree of misrepresentation than to attempt to remove it by the uncertain process of letter-writing.
For what we call illusions are often, in truth, a wider vision of past and present realities --a willing movement of a man's soul with the larger sweep of the world's forces --a movement towards a more assured end than the chances of a single life.
The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.
Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of those who diffuse it: it proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker.
Would not love see returning penitence afar off, and fall on its neck and kiss it?
Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.
Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.
No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather we who read it are no longer the same interpreters.
It is generally a feminine eye that first detects the moral deficiencies hidden under the dear deceit of beauty.
Great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion.
It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses we must plant more trees.
No great deed is done by falterers who ask for certainty.
People who can't be witty exert themselves to be devout and affectionate.
Vanity is as ill at ease under indifference as tenderness is under a love which it cannot return.
It was not that she was out of temper, but that the world was not equal to the demands of her fine organism.
But that intimacy of mutual embarrassment, in which each feels that the other is feeling something, having once existed, its effect is not to be done away with.
Where women love each other, men learn to smother their mutual dislike.
Our passions do not live apart in locked chambers but dress in their small wardrobe of notions, bring their provisions to a common table and mess together, feeding out of the common store according to their appetite.
The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.
I'm proof against that word failure. I've seen behind it. The only failure a man ought to fear is failure of cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best.
There is no private life which has not been determined by a wider public life.

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