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-  94   1 . George Eliot’s embodied mind I only know that I saw my wish outside of me. —Daniel Deronda, George Eliot Wanting her readers to know as she knows Hetty Sorrel’s beauty—that which she calls a “springtide beauty”—George Eliot acknowledges in Adam Bede that that desire cannot be met: I might mention all the divine charms of a bright spring day, but if you had never in your life utterly forgotten yourself in straining your eyes after the mounting lark, or in wandering through the still lanes when the fresh-opened blossoms fill them with sacred, silent beauty like that of fretted aisles, where would be the use of my descriptive catalog? I could never make you know what I meant by a bright spring day. (Emphasis mine, 128) What Eliot addresses is the possible failure of metaphor to make or be an object of shared understanding: if we have never felt about spring’s beauty the way Eliot has, how are we her readers ever to know in the way that Eliot knows what it is meant to embody, namely the far more abstract and unknowable beauty of her creation Hetty? Though we share in the knowledge of spring, even in spring’s beauty, we cannot know that we have experienced or felt that beauty in the same way; though we read Eliot’s writing, and have minds to imagine what her words mean, we cannot “Beloved Ideas Made Flesh” The Embodied Mind and Daniel Deronda Chapter 4 n 4: “Beloved Ideas Made Flesh” -  95   know that we know what Eliot means. The ache we hear in Eliot’s voice about the possible failure of the metaphor “springtide beauty” to make present to us Hetty’s beauty concludes in an expression of Eliot’s powerlessness to bring us into her mind: “I could never make you know what I meant by a bright spring day.” Her questioning of the efficacy of metaphor in Adam Bede contributes, I think, to her vision of mind as separate—not wholly enclosed because mirroring of others—yet generally limited to the experience of self-enclosure. As I discuss in chapter 3, not only does Adam Bede express Eliot’s doubts about her powers as author to know other “men and things” except as reflections of her mind, but in this moment she as well doubts that her readers can know how she means those reflections. Metaphor, the mirroring medium of representation of the verbal arts, she tells us, fails. But no such resignation about the limits of metaphor to make understanding between minds possible weighs down the pages of Daniel Deronda. In moments of profound shifts of recognition brought on by one mind making its way into another, startling uses of metaphor—metaphors that literally “bite”—fill the pages of Deronda with an insistence that makes visible the fundamental role metaphor plays in the rhetorical architecture of the novel. What I’m imagining is that sometime between Eliot’s writing of Adam Bede and Daniel Deronda, Eliot’s doubts about the possibility of mind meeting mind transform into hopes. In the way that sound makes possible a physical space for minds to mingle in Middlemarch, metaphor—the medium of Eliot’s art—makes possible a space of imagining for minds to meet in Daniel Deronda. Perhaps this has something to do with her own shifting of consciousness from philosopher who writes ideas as arguments about the nature of being to novelist who embodies ideas as representations of being—from philosopher who writes arguments to artist who represents in metaphor. Eliot reveals her shifting acknowledgment of the powers and uses of metaphor as a reflection both of the powers and limits of mind and of the sheer pervasiveness of metaphorical thinking in Middlemarch and The Mill on the Floss. Casaubon, who imagines a future of “that matrimonial garden” and trades in his bachelorhood for that metaphor, comes not to experience that garden. Eliot writes of the power of metaphor to influence Casaubon’s fatal choice as an example of how we all fall prey to metaphor’s control of our minds and so, too, of our actions: “[F]or we, all of us, grave or light, get our thoughts entangled in metaphors, and act fatally on the strength of them” (85). In The Mill on the Floss, when considering the failures of Tom to grasp Latin and his tutor Mr. Stelling to grasp that Tom’s mind is unique, Eliot...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814270929
Related ISBN
9780814251744
MARC Record
OCLC
868220158
Pages
218
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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