Saturday, 9 June 2012

Classics Challenge: The Mill on the Floss

This post is for the Classics Challenge at November's Autumn. This month features pictures illustrating scenes from books. I've chosen Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, as that is in the pastoral style and has the further advantage of passion. Adam Bede is pastoral as well, like a Dutch painting according to a review, and so is Middlemarch, so really George Eliot is ripe for the works of Constable. Interestingly, Mill on the Floss takes place in the early 19th century, around 1832 I believe, which is before the Victorian era. That year a Reform Bill was passed enabling those living in a property above 10 pounds to vote. The middle-classes became the new voters and this went to establish the middle-classes as a dominant force in the Victorian era. Strikingly enough Mill on the Floss doesn't feature much politics, though it is definitely a Victorian novel. No Regency novelist could have written it. The pangs of life, a feature of Romantic poetry, was not well-developed in novels till the Victorians came in. If you examine it closer, it smacks of Darwinism. This is because halfway through George Eliot was reading The Origin of Species, another classic you science buffs ought to read. In fact it is quite inoffensive for Christians to read as it hasn't got the atheistic sentiments more common nowadays (Darwin didn't want to be too controversial). 

I'm not conversant with Romantic painters (except Turner and Constable) so I put up a number of Victorian paintings, some of them nicked from the covers of Thomas Hardy books. The governess picture is from the Penguin Classics edition of Agnes Grey I think.

Forgot where this scene is, but Maggie does become a governess to support herself when her father dies.

The Governess by Richard Redgrave
Girls at piano by Renoir
The well-furnished drawing-room, with the open grand piano, and the pleasant outlook down a sloping garden to a boat-house by the side of the Floss, is Mr. Deane's. 
by Charlotte Bosanquet. Strictly speaking Mill on the Floss is pre-Victorian.

In the Conservatory by James Tissot

Tom, in the gladness of his heart at having dear old Maggie to dispute with and crow over again, seized her round the waist, and began tojump with her round the large library table.
Darwin's Study
Mr. Pullet, confused and overwhelmed by this revolutionary aspect of things,--the tea deferred and the poultry alarmed by the unusual running to and fro,--took up his spud as an instrument of search, and reached down a key to unlock the goose-pen, as a likely place for Maggie to lie concealed in.

by Frederick Hall

Stratford Mill by John Constable

by John Constable

that wonderful pool, which
the floods had made a long while ago. No one knew how deep it was; and
it was mysterious, too, that it should be almost a perfect round,
framed in with willows and tall reeds, so that the water was only to
be seen when you got close to the brink.
Willows Beside a Stream by JMW Turner

John Constable

The wood I walk in on this mild May day, with the young yellow-brown foliage of the oaks between me and the blue sky, the white star-flowers and the blue-eyed speedwell and the ground ivy at my feet, what grove of tropic palms, what strange ferns or splendid broad-petalled blossoms, could ever thrill such deep and delicate fibres within me as this home scene? These familiar flowers, these well-remembered bird-notes, this sky, with its fitful brightness, these furrowed and grassy fields,
Holyday by James Tissot

Oak at Flagey by Gustave Courbet
They stopped to part among the Scotch firs.

"Then my life will be filled with hope, Maggie, and I shall be happier
than other men, in spite of all? We _do_ belong to each other--for
always--whether we are apart or together?"

"Yes, Philip; I should like never to part; I should like to make your
life very happy."

"I am waiting for something else. I wonder whether it will come."
the Long Engagement by Arthur Hughes

 She was calmly enjoying the free air, while she looked up at the old fir-trees, and thought that those broken ends of branches were the records of past storms, which had only made the red stems soar higher
Beech Avenue on the Denbies by Richard Redgrave

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