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George Henry Lewes

Geburtstag: 18. April 1817
Todesdatum: 30. November 1878

George Henry Lewes war ein englischer Schriftsteller, Literaturkritiker und Philosoph.

Zitate George Henry Lewes

„The intensity of vision in the artist and of vividness in his creations are the sole tests of his imaginative power.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: I wish to call special attention to the psychological fact, that fairies and demons, remote as they are from experience, are not created by a more vigorous effort of imagination than milk maids and poachers. The intensity of vision in the artist and of vividness in his creations are the sole tests of his imaginative power.

„An artist produces an effect in virtue of the distinctness with which he sees the objects he represents, seeing them not vaguely as in vanishing apparitions, but steadily, and in their most characteristic relations. To this Vision he adds artistic skill with which to make us see.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: An artist produces an effect in virtue of the distinctness with which he sees the objects he represents, seeing them not vaguely as in vanishing apparitions, but steadily, and in their most characteristic relations. To this Vision he adds artistic skill with which to make us see. He may have clear conceptions, yet fail to make them clear to us: in this case he has imagination, but is not an artist. Without clear Vision no skill can avail. Imperfect Vision necessitates imperfect representation; words take the place of ideas.

„There are occasions when the simplest and fewest words surpass in effect all the wealth of rhetorical amplification.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: There are occasions when the simplest and fewest words surpass in effect all the wealth of rhetorical amplification. An example may be seen in the passage which has been a favourite illustration from the days of Longinus to our own. "God said: Let there be light! and there was light." This is a conception of power so calm and simple that it needs only to be presented in the fewest and the plainest words, and would be confused or weakened by any suggestion of accessories.

„The moral nature of man is more sacred in my eyes than his intellectual nature.“

—  George Henry Lewes

Rose, Blanche, and Violet (London: Smith, Elder, 1848) vol. 1, pp. viii-ix
Kontext: The moral nature of man is more sacred in my eyes than his intellectual nature. I know they cannot be divorced — that without intelligence we should be Brutes — but it is the tendency of our gaping, wondering dispositions to give pre-eminence to those faculties which most astonish us. Strength of character seldom, if ever, astonishes; goodness, lovingness, and quiet self-sacrifice, are worth all the talents in the world.

„If clear Vision be indispensable to success in Art, all means of securing that clearness should be sought.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: If clear Vision be indispensable to success in Art, all means of securing that clearness should be sought. Now one means is that of detaining an image long enough before the mind to allow of its being seen in all its characteristics. The explanation Newton gave of his discovery of the great law, points in this direction; it was by always thinking of the subject, by keeping it constantly before his mind, that he finally saw the truth. Artists brood over the chaos of their suggestions, and thus shape them into creations.

„Genius is rarely able to give any account of its own processes.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: Genius is rarely able to give any account of its own processes. But those who have had ample opportunities of intimately knowing the growth of works in the minds of artists, will bear me out in saying that a vivid memory supplies the elements from a thousand different sources, most of which are quite beyond the power of localisation, the experience of yesterday being strangely intermingled with the dim suggestions of early years, the tones heard in childhood sounding through the diapason of sorrowing maturity; and all these kaleidoscopic fragments are recomposed into images that seem to have a corresponding reality of their own.

„Literature is at once the cause and the effect of social progress. It deepens our natural sensibilities, and strengthens by exercise our intellectual capacities.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: Literature is at once the cause and the effect of social progress. It deepens our natural sensibilities, and strengthens by exercise our intellectual capacities. It stores up the accumulated experience of the race, connecting Past and Present into a conscious unity; and with this store it feeds successive generations, to be fed in turn by them. As its importance emerges into more general recognition, it necessarily draws after it a larger crowd of servitors, filling noble minds with a noble ambition.

„Why should I pretend to an erudition which is not mine? Sincerity forbids it.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: Sincerity is not only effective and honourable, it is also much less difficult than is commonly supposed. To take a trifling example: If for some reason I cannot, or do not, choose to verify a quotation which may be useful to my purpose, what is to prevent my saying that the quotation is taken at second-hand? It is true, if my quotations are for the most part second-hand and are acknowledged as such, my erudition will appear scanty. But it will only appear what it is. Why should I pretend to an erudition which is not mine? Sincerity forbids it.

„There are many points both of doctrine and feeling in which the world is not likely to be wrong. But in all cases it is desirable that men should not pretend to believe opinions which they really reject, or express emotions they do not feel.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: I would not have the reader conclude that because I advocate plain-speaking even of unpopular views, I mean to imply that originality and sincerity are always in opposition to public opinion. There are many points both of doctrine and feeling in which the world is not likely to be wrong. But in all cases it is desirable that men should not pretend to believe opinions which they really reject, or express emotions they do not feel. And this rule is universal. Even truthful and modest men will sometimes violate the rule under the mistaken idea of being eloquent by means of the diction of eloquence. This is a source of bad Literature.

„Every one who has seriously investigated a novel question, who has really interrogated Nature with a view to a distinct answer, will bear me out in saying that it requires intense and sustained effort of imagination.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: Every one who has seriously investigated a novel question, who has really interrogated Nature with a view to a distinct answer, will bear me out in saying that it requires intense and sustained effort of imagination. The relations of sequence among the phenomena must be seen; they are hidden; they can only be seen mentally; a thousand suggestions rise before the mind, but they are recognised as old suggestions, or as inadequate to reveal what is sought; the experiments by which the problem may be solved have to be imagined; and to imagine a good experiment is as difficult as to invent a good fable, for we must have distinctly present — clear mental vision — the known qualities and relations of all the objects, and must see what will be the effect of introducing some new qualifying agent. If any one thinks this is easy, let him try it: the trial will teach him a lesson respecting the methods of intellectual activity not without its use.

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„It is only because men have been attracted by the differences that they have overlooked the not less important affinities.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: In Science the paramount appeal is to the Intellect — its purpose being instruction; in Art, the paramount appeal is to the Emotions — its purpose being pleasure. A work of Art must of course indirectly appeal to the Intellect, and a work of Science will also indirectly appeal to the Feelings; nevertheless a poem on the stars and a treatise on astronomy have distinct aims and distinct methods. But having recognised the broadly-marked differences, we are called upon to ascertain the underlying resemblances. Logic and Imagination belong equally to both. It is only because men have been attracted by the differences that they have overlooked the not less important affinities.

„In Science the paramount appeal is to the Intellect — its purpose being instruction; in Art, the paramount appeal is to the Emotions — its purpose being pleasure.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: In Science the paramount appeal is to the Intellect — its purpose being instruction; in Art, the paramount appeal is to the Emotions — its purpose being pleasure. A work of Art must of course indirectly appeal to the Intellect, and a work of Science will also indirectly appeal to the Feelings; nevertheless a poem on the stars and a treatise on astronomy have distinct aims and distinct methods. But having recognised the broadly-marked differences, we are called upon to ascertain the underlying resemblances. Logic and Imagination belong equally to both. It is only because men have been attracted by the differences that they have overlooked the not less important affinities.

„Instead, therefore, of saying that Man is the creature of Circumstance, it would be nearer the mark to say that Man is the architect of Circumstance. It is Character which builds an existence out of Circumstance.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Life and Works of Goethe (1855; repr. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1856) vol. 1, p. 30, often misattributed to Thomas Carlyle.
Kontext: Instead, therefore, of saying that Man is the creature of Circumstance, it would be nearer the mark to say that Man is the architect of Circumstance. It is Character which builds an existence out of Circumstance. Our strength is measured by our plastic power. From the same materials one man builds palaces, another hovels, one warehouses, another villas.

„He sees the danger, and feels not the power that is to overcome it.“

—  George Henry Lewes

Quelle: The Spanish Drama (1846), Ch. 2
Kontext: A man may be buoyed up by the efflation of his wild desires to brave any imaginable peril; but he cannot calmly see one he loves braving the same peril; simply because he cannot feel within turn that which prompts another. He sees the danger, and feels not the power that is to overcome it.

„Minds differ in the vividness with which they recall the elements of previous experience“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: Minds differ in the vividness with which they recall the elements of previous experience, and mentally see the absent objects; they differ also in the aptitudes for selection, abstraction, and recombination: the fine selective instinct of the artist, which makes him fasten upon the details which will most powerfully affect us, without any disturbance of the harmony of the general impression, does not depend solely upon the vividness of his memory and the clearness with which the objects are seen, but depends also upon very complex and peculiar conditions of sympathy which we call genius.

„No man really thinks and feels monotonously.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: No man really thinks and feels monotonously. If he is monotonous in his manner of setting forth his thoughts and feelings, that is either because he has not learned the art of writing, or because he is more or less consciously imitating the manner of others. The subtle play of thought will give movement and life to his style if he do not clog it with critical superstitions. I do not say that it will give him grace and power; I do not say that relying on perfect sincerity will make him a fine writer, because sincerity will not give talent; but I say that sincerity will give him all the power that is possible to him, and will secure him the inestimable excellence of Variety.

„A man must be himself convinced if he is to convince others. The prophet must be his own disciple, or he will make none. Enthusiasm is contagious: belief creates belief.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: A man must be himself convinced if he is to convince others. The prophet must be his own disciple, or he will make none. Enthusiasm is contagious: belief creates belief. There is no influence issuing from unbelief or from languid acquiescence. This is peculiarly noticeable in Art, because Art depends on sympathy for its influence, and unless the artist has felt the emotions he depicts we remain unmoved: in proportion to the depth of his feeling is our sympathetic response; in proportion to the shallowness or falsehood of his presentation is our coldness or indifference.

„It is visible in the publication of opinions, in the structure of sentences, and in the fidelity of citations.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: Men who are never flagrantly dishonest are at times unveracious in small matters, colouring or suppressing facts with a conscious purpose; and writers who never stole an idea nor pretended to honours for which they had not striven, may be found lapsing into small insincerities, speaking a language which is not theirs, uttering opinions which they expect to gain applause rather than the opinions really believed by them. But if few men are perfectly and persistently sincere, Sincerity is nevertheless the only enduring strength.
The principle is universal, stretching from the highest purposes of Literature down to its smallest details. It underlies the labour of the philosopher, the investigator, the moralist, the poet, the novelist, the critic, the historian, and the compiler. It is visible in the publication of opinions, in the structure of sentences, and in the fidelity of citations.

„In the development of the great series of animal organisms, the Nervous System assumes more and more of an imperial character.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: In the development of the great series of animal organisms, the Nervous System assumes more and more of an imperial character. The rank held by any animal is determined by this character, and not at all by its bulk, its strength, or even its utility. In like manner, in the development of the social organism, as the life of nations becomes more complex, Thought assumes a more imperial character; and Literature, in its widest sense, becomes a delicate index of social evolution. Barbarous societies show only the germs of literary life. But advancing civilisation, bringing with it increased conquest over material agencies, disengages the mind from the pressure of immediate wants, and the loosened energy finds in leisure both the demand and the means of a new activity: the demand, because long unoccupied hours have to be rescued from the weariness of inaction; the means, because this call upon the energies nourishes a greater ambition and furnishes a wider arena.

„An orator whose purpose is to persuade men must speak the things they wish to hear; an orator, whose purpose is to move men, must also avoid disturbing the emotional effect by any obtrusion of intellectual antagonism; but an author whose purpose is to instruct men, who appeals to the intellect, must be careless of their opinions, and think only of truth.“

—  George Henry Lewes

The Principles of Success in Literature (1865)
Kontext: An orator whose purpose is to persuade men must speak the things they wish to hear; an orator, whose purpose is to move men, must also avoid disturbing the emotional effect by any obtrusion of intellectual antagonism; but an author whose purpose is to instruct men, who appeals to the intellect, must be careless of their opinions, and think only of truth. It will often be a question when a man is or is not wise in advancing unpalateable opinions, or in preaching heresies; but it can never be a question that a man should be silent if unprepared to speak the truth as he conceives it. Deference to popular opinion is one great source of bad writing, and is all the more disastrous because the deference is paid to some purely hypothetical requirement. When a man fails to see the truth of certain generally accepted views, there is no law compelling him to provoke animosity by announcing his dissent. He may be excused if he shrink from the lurid glory of martyrdom; he may be justified in not placing himself in a position of singularity. He may even be commended for not helping to perplex mankind with doubts which he feels to be founded on limited and possibly erroneous investigation. But if allegiance to truth lays no stern command upon him to speak out his immature dissent, it does lay a stern command not to speak out hypocritical assent.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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