Damn You, Lydgate! MIDDLEMARCH, p. 730


Look elsewhere unless you are too lazy to read 900 pages of George Eliot’s inimitable novel and only want to turn in one of those quickie papers that tells you the end of a novel you’ve only read 100 pages of . . .

Dorothea makes Lydgate an offer it would be craaazy to refuse. A way to salvage his honor, remain in Middlemarch, continue his work in the hospital . . .

Lydgate tells Dorothea that his wife Rosamond cannot bear to remain in Middlemarch any longer, “the troubles she has had here have wearied her.”

Dorothea pleads to be allowed to speak to Rosamond. Lydgate tells her “No. I prefer that there should be no interval left for wavering. I am no longer sure enough of myself — I mean of what it would be possible for me to do under the changed circumstances of my life. It would be dishonourable to let others engage themselves to anything serious in dependence on me . . . The whole thing is too problematic; I cannot consent to be the cause of your goodness being wasted.”

(Damn you, Lydgate, to have discovered your pride at this late date! Anyhoo)

“It hurts me very much to hear you speak so hopelessly,” said Dorothea. “It would be a happiness to your friends, who believe in your future, in your power to do great things, if you would let them save you from that.”

“God bless you, Mrs. Casaubon!” said Lydgate, rising. “It is good that you should have such feelings. But I am not the man who ought to allow himself to benefit by them.”

“Now that is not brave,” said Dorothea. “To give up the fight.”

(You GO, Dorothea! And you, Lydgate, quit’cher honourable whining!)

“No, it is not brave,” said Lydgate, “but if a man is afraid of creeping paralysis?”

And all self can say, over and over, is: DAMN YOU, LYDGATE! She’s gotten herself as worked up over the angst in Middlemarch as she gets over the angst in her Everlark fan fiction! George Eliot, you are genius!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

MIDDLEMARCH: The Moment When Lydgate — !!


With the whole weight of town opinion solidly against him, his own wife cold and ready to break camp at any moment, young Doctor Tertius Lydgate goes to the widowed Dorothea Casaubon. He tells her how his reputation has been sullied by his association with a man of ill-repute, Bulstrode. He sees no other recourse than to leave Middlemarch.

Dorothea never wavers. Tell me, she urges Lydgate. Tell me all.

And he does.

What a moment! Almost like the one in Mockingjay Part 2 where Katniss seizes Peeta’s face and tells him: STAY WITH ME.

Here’s how Eliot writes the scene (There are many threads. Self will not explain them other than to say: Self is on p. 727, people. Do not expect her to summarize the previous 727!)

  • The searching tenderness of her woman’s tones seemed made for a defence against ready accusers. Lydgate did not stay to think that she was Quixotic: he gave himself up, for the first time in his life, to the exquisite sense of leaning entirely on a generous sympathy, without any check of proud reserve. And he told her everything, from the time when, under the pressure of his difficulties, he unwillingly made his first application to Bulstrode; gradually in the relief of speaking, getting into a more thorough utterance of what had gone on in his mind — entering fully into the fact that his treatment of a patient was opposed to the dominant practice, into his doubts at the last, his ideal of medical duty, and his uneasy consciousness that the acceptance of the money had made some difference in his private inclination and professional behavior, though not in his fulfillment of any publicly recognized obligation.

And then, at last, the confession:

Lydgate: Why should I not tell you? You know what sort of bond marriage is. You will understand everything.

Dorothea felt her heart beginning to beat faster. Had he that sorrow, too?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Transition 3: Further Adventures in Italy

First “transition”: a dish almost consumed


A bowl of navy beans and pasta, which she was told was very “Venetian.” She had it for lunch at the Florian Café on San Marco Square.

The whole of Venice itself is in transition. The structures rest on pylons that are thousands of years old. They look as if they could sink into the sea at any moment:


On the Venetian Lagoon, early November

And, finally, here is Pisa, as the sun sets across the Field of Miracles:


Because self and her niece had so much fun, when her niece suggested another trip in 2016, self immediately said, “I’m there.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Dearest Mum, Who Played in Carnegie Hall

When she was 14 or 15. She won The New York Times piano competition.

This Manila newspaper article focuses on her fashion style. She picked out the clothes herself. The article describes her clothing choices as very “atonal.”

nena del rosario 001

Nena del Rosario Villanueva

Dearest Mum had the tiniest waist: 23 inches all around. Alas, self did not inherit Dearest Mum’s fabulous figure. That honor went to self’s older sister.

Growing up, self resisted all attempts to get dressed up. Even after she started giving readings. “It’s about what’s inside,” she remembers saying to Dearest Mum. “No one has the time to figure out the inner you, so why don’t you just make it easy for them,” Dearest Mum would retort.

Self is so perverse that she continued to dress badly. On purpose.

Now, self is finally beginning to come around to Dearest Mum’s way of thinking.

Years and years later, self is in VCCA when she peeks into an artists studio and spies Drew, playing on a piano. She strikes up a conversation. Eight years later, Drew composes a full-length opera based on one of self’s novellas.

Would you believe, self missed a Nov. 19 concert in Carnegie Hall; the violinist played an original composition by Drew. Sometimes self is very, very stupid.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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