George Eliot on Mourning the Past

By Rakesh Ahuja

I was introduced in the 60s by my effervescent muse, Mary Anne, my first wife, to George Eliot whose real name was Mary Anne Evans. No, as a female, she could not write under her femalish name. I learnt then about what it meant to be a female or to be the Outsider, in the White Male Anglo dominated intellectual and social environment.
Even more, as I read and re-read George Eliot, Letters, 1848, I realised that her reflections on grief and death reflected the very tenets of Stoicism. However, as far as we can discern, Mary did not know about the purveyors of Stoicism such as Epictetus, Heraclitus or Aurelius.
he following excerpt from George Eliot Letters 1848 reflects the best of Stoicism and has served me well in coping with the Deaths of Others in my lifetime.
“Alas for the fate of poor mortals, which condemns them to wake up one fine morning and find all the poetry in which their world was bathed, only the evening before, utterly gone – the hard, angular world of chairs and tables and looking-glasses staring at them in all its naked prose!

It is so in all stages of life:

the poetry of childhood goes –

the poetry of love and marriage –

the poetry of paternity –

and at last, the very poetry of duty forsakes us for a season, and we see ourselves, and all about us, as nothing more than miserable agglomerations of atoms – poor tentative efforts of the Nature Princep to mould a personality!”
#Stoicism, #George Eliot, #Death