steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

"It is never too late to be who you might have been."

I've recently seen this rather facile apercu attributed to George Eliot, but without a specific source. Is it genuine? It seems a most un-Eliotic thought to me. Having Middlemarch fairly fresh in my mind, it strikes me that it's a book all about the realization that it's too late to be what one might have been. Look at Lydgate! Look at Casaubon! Look at Lydgate again!

I've not read all of Eliot by any means, and maybe she has her lapses into airheaded optimism, but I find it hard to imagine. I might have bought the quotation had it been attributed to Dickens, but even Scrooge can never be what he might have been - the contented husband of Belle. He can only be what he can still become, someone who "knows how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possesses the knowledge." Which may be better or may be worse, but certainly isn't the same.
Tags: books, maunderings, misquotation
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