“Certainly those determining acts of her life were not ideally beautiful. They were the mixed result of young and noble impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion. For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it…
For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
From the final two paragraphs of Middlemarch by George Eliot.
Martin Amis referred to Middlemarch as, “Eliot’s one readable book, which turned out to be the central Anglophone novel.” Julian Barnes, another celebrated contemporary novelist, told the Paris Review that, “Middlemarch is probably the greatest English novel.”
If you want to ruin your eyes, Project Gutenberg has the entire book on-line here.