Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 16 (1985)
There is no difference in kind between our human selves and those particular human beings who we have learnt, throughout our history. to call the artist, the thinker, the hero, the saint . The difference is not one of kind, it is rather one of intensity of experience. At the highest level in our culture the artist. the thinker. the hero. the saint are those who. according to one of the leading theologians of our age, have ventured on our behalf on a journey of intensification. It is. of course. a journey that, to a greater or lesser degree. we are all involved in making for ourselves. However. so often we lack the courage to move forward on our own journey of intensification; we fear where the search for integrity and truth may lead us. Like the infant Teresa. we are. from time to time. caught by a vision. a hope. that leads us to stumble forward once again. but before long the uncles of convention block our way and we are persuaded that it is best for us to return. That it is best for us to learn to accept the evils of our world. to come to terms with the warfare. the violence. the lack of justice. the lack of compassion. the immorality. The artist. the · thinker. the hero, the saint are those who refuse to turn back on their journey of intensification. Rather. by moving forward with courage and integrity they map out new terrain. they help us to enlarge once more the horizons of what is possible for humanity. That George Eliot is to be counted among this special group is not to be doubted. The novel was supremely the Nineteenth Century art form and among the Nineteenth Century novelists she stands alongside the very greatest.