Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Big Dreams

The narrator of Italo Svevo's Confessions of Zeno, meditates on youth and aspiration:

Nella mente di un giovine di famiglia borghese il concetto di vita umana s’associa a quello della carriera e nella prima gioventù la carriera è quella di Napoleone I.
In the minds of middle-class young men life is associated with a career, and in early youth that career is usually Napoleon's.
 Cf. George Eliot on young Tertius Lydgate:
He was but seven-and-twenty, an age at which many men are not quite common - at which they are hopeful of achievement, resolute in avoidance, thinking that Mammon shall never put a bit in their mouths and get astride their backs, but rather that Mammon, if they have anything to do with him, shall draw their chariot.
So Middlemarch, Chapter 15.  Note that "tertius"="third."

Lydgate has perhaps not yet learned the identity of George Bernard Shaw's seven deadly sins:" food, clothing, firing, rent, taxes, respectability and children."  Shaw (=Andrew Undershaft, in Major Barbara) cautions: "Nothing can lift those seven millstones from Man's neck but money; and the spirit can not soar until the millstones are lifted."

No comments: