It was once rather original to say that “after all” George Eliot was religious; then religion would be subtly defined to include all good or artistic people. “After all” meant after all her reading of Hennell, Strauss, Feuerbach, Spencer, Comte, the rational disturbers of faith. But though these men influenced her to a rational renunciation of religion, there was an influence stronger than theirs. One has but to remember how, in her novels, London or Florence may lie dead under her hand but how Coventry is always alive, to realize that her Coventry youth was the most impressive time of her life. She was then most passionate and alive as she was then most unhappy and confused. The influences of that time never left her, and chief among them was her religion. If rationally she renounced it, actually she merely translated it, as Carlyle translated Calvinism into transcendentalism, into the terms of current philosophy. She always suspected the disturbers of others’ faith; she yearned always, she tells us, “to all the religions of the world.” Culture replaced devotional reading, quotations replaced texts, but religion remained.
Sunday, January 01, 2012
... Lionel Trilling's "Intellect Or Religion?" | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)