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More by this Author
But in order that life should be a story or romance to us,
it is necessary that a great part of it, at any rate, should be
settled for us without our permission. If we wish life to be
a system, this may be a nuisance; but if we wish it to be a drama,
it is an essential. It may often happen, no doubt, that a drama
may be written by somebody else which we like very little.
But we should like it still less if the author came before the curtain
every hour or so, and forced on us the whole trouble of inventing
the next act. A man has control over many things in his life;
he has control over enough things to be the hero of a novel.
But if he had control over everything, there would be so much
hero that there would be no novel. And the reason why the lives
of the rich are at bottom so tame and uneventful is simply that they
can choose the events. They are dull because they are omnipotent.
They fail to feel adventures because they can make the adventures.
The thing which keeps life romantic and full of fiery possibilities
is the existence of these great plain limitations which force all of us
to meet the things we do not like or do not expect. It is vain for
the supercilious moderns to talk of being in uncongenial surroundings.
To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings.
To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings,
hence to be born into a romance. Of all these great limitations
and frameworks which fashion and create the poetry and variety
of life, the family is the most definite and important.
Hence it is misunderstood by the moderns, who imagine that romance would
exist most perfectly in a complete state of what they call liberty.
They think that if a man makes a gesture it would be a startling
and romantic matter that the sun should fall from the sky.
But the startling and romantic thing about the sun is that it does
not fall from the sky. They are seeking under every shape and form
a world where there are no limitations--that is, a world where there
are no outlines; that is, a world where there are no shapes.
There is nothing baser than that infinity. They say they wish to be,
as strong as the universe, but they really wish the whole universe
as weak as themselves.