The Lifted Veil by George Eliot

the lifted veilI’m afraid this one works as a curiosity but not much more.

According to the end notes, The Lifted Veil, written just after her first novel, Adam Bede, is Ms. Eliot’s only first person narrative and her only book to deal with supernatural elements.  It’s probably for the best that she gave both up as soon as possible.

The Lifted Veil is an entertaining story, overall, about a man who has visions of the future and hears the thoughts of those around him.  He becomes obsessed with his brother’s fiance, Bertha, since she is the only person who is “closed” to him.  Eventually, he marries her, though she does not love him, only to discover that she is plotting to murder him through an unusual means that can be described as George Eliot trying her hand at science fiction like Mary Shelly did in Frankenstein.

There are a few passages that deliver the insight into human nature Ms. Eliot does so well in books like Middlemarch which still remains the best novel in English ever written.  I’ve read it four times, so I know.

From The Lifted Veil Bertha comments on love:

What! Your wisdom thinks I must love the man I’m going to marry?  The most unpleasant thing in the world.  I should quarrel with him; I should be jealous of him; our menage would be conducted in a very ill-bred manner. A little quite contempt contributes greatly to the elegance of life.

It’s too bad Bertha never got a full novel to herself.  A character like her, with an outlook on love and life like she has, would have made for a very interesting “George Eliot” novel.

As it is, The Lifted Veil is of interest to fans of George Eliot and I think to fans of horror and science fiction as well.  Written in 1959, it’s a very early and somewhat interesting example of each.

Maybe I should give George Eliot credit for that, at least.

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