Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-rkxrd Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-19T01:56:36.234Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2016

Get access

Summary

We are not afraid of telling over and over again how a man comes to fall in love with a woman and be wedded to her, or else be fatally parted from her. Is it due to excess of poetry or of stupidity that we are never weary of describing what King James called a woman's ‘makdom and her fairnesse’, never weary of listening to the twanging of the old Troubadour strings, and are comparatively uninterested in that other kind of ‘makdom and fairnesse’ which must be wooed with industrious thought and patient renunciation of small desires? In the story of this passion, too, the development varies: sometimes it is the glorious marriage, sometimes frustration and final parting. And not seldom the catastrophe is bound up with the other passion, sung by the Troubadours. For in the multitude of middle-aged men who go about their vocations in a daily course determined for them much in the same way as the tie of their cravats, there is always a good number who once meant to shape their own deeds and alter the world a little.

George Eliot, Middlemarch

This book is a love story– no matter how embarrassing these words are to write or, perhaps, to read. In the most obvious sense, the book is a story about Sir George Scharf– Victorian antiquarian, man-about- London and founding director of the National Portrait Gallery– and his loving relationships with male friends. It is also, however, about other kinds of loves– George Scharf's and our own. In Middlemarch, another (female) George reminds her readers of the existence of an alternative love plot, another beloved that must be ‘wooed with industrious thought and patient renunciation of small desires’. This is, of course, the plot of work or vocation: we see signs of this love in the playful curlicues of George Scharf's drawings; in the time he spent each day sketching, reading, making notes and recording these activities in his diaries; in the he paid to the details of the portraits he examined, copied and arranged; and in the hard-won pocket money he expended travelling to great English country houses to catalogue their collections. The self-educated son of an immigrant artist, Scharf loved his work and the surprisingly elevated social life that grew up around it with titled friends and younger fellows.

Type
Chapter
Information
Love Among the Archives
Writing the Lives of Sir George Scharf, Victorian Bachelor
, pp. ix - xii
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2015

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×