Conclusion / Victorian Networks / Digital Middlemarch

Thank you to both sections for a fantastic semester of Victorian Literature and Globalization.  To conclude our blog, I re-post the famous passage from Middlemarch on the pier-glass — itself a kind of parable for our discussions of interconnection and so-called modernization in the Victorian era.

“An eminent philosopher among my friends, who can dignify even your ugly furniture by lifting it into the serene light of science, has shown me this pregnant little fact. Your pier-glass or extensive surface of polished steel made to be rubbed by a housemaid, will beminutely and multitudinously scratched in all directions; but place now against it a lighted candle as a centre of illumination, and lo! the scratches will seem to arrange themselves in a fine series of concentric circles round that little sun. It is demonstrable that the scratches are going everywhere impartially and it is only your candle which produces the flattering illusion of a concentric arrangement, its light falling with an exclusive optical selection. These things are a parable. The scratches are events, and the candle is the egoism of any person now absent [.]”  (248)

Please browse through the students’ DIGITAL MIDDLEMARCH project for further thinking about the content, form, and implications of Eliot’s “particular web.”

Thank you to all the students for a wonderful term!  Please don’t be strangers.



About Nathan Hensley

Nathan K. Hensley is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University; he works on nineteenth-century British literature, critical theory, and the novel.
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