Successful avoidance

Successful avoidance

George Eliot captures a moment in which two people deeply attracted to one another manage to feign indifference, each deriving satisfaction from their stand off, like a drug addict who has held back. ‘They had begun the morning with an indifferent salutation,...
Breathing on a crystal

Breathing on a crystal

A limpid simile to describe a lovely human being. Maggie is simple and direct, but her innate charm and beauty cause considerable complexity of feeling among others. And let’s not breathe on the crystal that lets the light through, we need it. ‘To ask her...
Looking good

Looking good

The poor old boy, pallid and wan, in stark and merciless juxtaposition to the ruddy picture of health and well-being, Sir James.  ‘Skinned over for the occasion’, beat that. ‘Really, by the side of Sir James, he looks like a death’s head...
Mental shallows

Mental shallows

A splendid simile for a shallow-minded person, and I loved the ‘nethermost sediment’, in which murk turbid calculations are taking place as to whether her dying brother could possibly leave his wealth to any but his blood relations. He keeps the whole lot...
Great grassy hills

Great grassy hills

A beautiful description of a large-hearted calming character, who has a benign influence on those around him. We need more Cadwalladers around, quieting ‘irritated egoism’ and making it even a little ashamed of itself. ‘Mr Cadwallader was a large...
As active as…

As active as…

What a great simile to describe a fast-darting, quick-acting mind!  Sadly, this vivid image also reminds me of a certain virus now prevalent, being similarly active and biting everything that comes near. ‘With such a mind, active as phosphorus, biting everything...
The timbre of a voice

The timbre of a voice

Voices are evanescent and yet they can stay with us all our lives; I can still ‘hear’ the voices of my mother and grandmother.  Some voices are striking for their timbre and I liked this description of Dorothea’s voice in Middlemarch. ‘But what...
On being learned

On being learned

Dorothea is the more studious of two sisters and marries an older bookish chap, to the consternation of her relatives. Here her sister Celia expresses their concern and her author uses a charming simile to describe erudition as some kind of insidious invasion of...
The stream of feeling

The stream of feeling

Casaubon comes late to marriage and having decided upon it, dives headlong into the expected stream of feeling, only to smack his head on the shallowness of his own emotions. George Eliot deftly evokes his disappointed realization that he lacks the wherewithal to feel...
As relaxing as …

As relaxing as …

Casaubon is a serious-minded studious individual pursuing research so recondite that only he really understands why he’s doing it. When his doctor tells him he needs to let up and take it easy for the sake of his health, he takes it like a convict’s...
As agreeable as …

As agreeable as …

What a satisfying simile for something being agreeable, like the ease and relief of a successful sneeze. How odd that this simile has come to the fore just as we are at home isolating ourselves from pandemic, and sneezes are not to be sniffed at. Be sneeze-free and...
As naturally as …

As naturally as …

Following the death of her husband, Dorothea dutifully tries to repress a deep wish to meet Will Ladislaw. George Eliot conveys beautifully the moment that her longing bursts the dam of her reasoning and restraint, using the simile of a suppressed sob. ‘…...
Focus your light

Focus your light

Wise guidance for writers. I like the way George Eliot calls herself to order and her self-reminder to focus, focus, focus resonates. A perennial weakness is being yanked in two directions – the desire to concentrate light on a particular web on the one hand,...
The spread of news

The spread of news

It’s some time since I noted this simile for the effective spread of news.  Now, re-reading it as we watch the advance of the Covid-19, I realize it could stand as a metaphor for the effective spread of a virus. Enjoy the simile and bee well, wherever you are....

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