Seriously, this shit s bananas B A N A N A S 750 pages in, and you re still being surprised It s 800 pages long and EVERY SINGLE PAGE ADVANCES THE PLOT You cannot believe it until you read it This is a writer s book By which I mean, and I say this with love, that if you write, but you do not love Middlemarch with everything that s in you, then stop writing Yesterday.
Some discouragement, some faintness of heart at the new real future which replaces the imaginary, is not unusual, and we do not expect people to be deeply moved by what is not unusual That element of tragedy which lies in the very fact of frequency, has not yet wrought itself into the coarse emotion of mankind and perhaps our frames could hardly bear much of it If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.
When Alexandra suggested to participate in this year s alphabetical challenge of reading women, I admit the prospect of finally reading Middlemarch for the E was the decisive element for me to embark on the journey and I had been keeping the novel aside as a precious reward, to be touched if and only if I would manage to finish a demanding work project in time When that blissful moment came, I couldn t have dreamt of a exquisite treat than reading this masterpiece, of which I enjoyed every minute Although Virginia Woolf called it one of the few English novels written for grown up people reading this novel made me feel sixteen again, catapulting me back into memories of spending hours of reading delight during school holidays in the small kitchen above the grocery store where my mother worked, only having to interrupt reading to wash the dishes, then plunging again into some fat Russian 19th century novel, greedily gobbling up the sentences, floating on cloud nine Isn t it odd how memory singles out and connects to some of our experiences as the most delightful ones of our lives, of which we were barely aware when we were living them Needless to say books which are that overwhelming are rare, and this novel is such one, one that swallowed me whole, only desiring to be in the book, curling up with the characters I revelled in Eliot s prowess in bringing to life her wondrous characters and particularly in the strength of her women most of the men in the novel seem no match for the women, at certain moments some sound like a tenor in an opera who s faint voice renders his nonetheless beautiful lines and alleged heroism at times perhaps somewhat implausible but all the human As so much has been written on this magnum opus I so far have only skimmed through a few of the magnificent hymns readers here have written to this so well loved book and hope to read them thoroughly now having finished the novel and the issues worth analysing seem boundless I feel it could easily feed my reading group s discussions for a year reading the novel a first time I soon sensed it out of my league to consider writing anything about it and so surrendered to reading instinctively, plunging in naked and unarmed, floating smoothly on Eliot s fabulous sentences, the gentle waves of her wisdom If I would focus on one theme for further exploring in a second read it would be marriage as seen by Eliot, to find out if and in which way her views concurred with or differed from the conventional ones in her time, and what her views on relationships tell us today Young love making that gossamer web Subtle interlacings are swung are scarcely perceptible momentary touches of fingertips, meetings of rays from blue and dark orbs, unfinished phrases, lightest changes of cheek and lip, faintest tremors The web itself is made of spontaneous beliefs and indefinable joys, yearnings of one life towards another, visions of completeness, indefinite trust And Lydgate fell to spinning that web from his inward self with wonderful rapidity As for Rosamond, she was in the water lily s expanding wonderment at its own fuller life, and she too was spinning industriously at the mutual web.
One of the themes which propulses the finely spun narratives and intrigues Middlemarch has been compared to an intricate emotional spider web, the omniscient authorial voice repeatedly using the web metaphor, considering the recounting of the tale a task ofunraveling certain human lots and seeing how they were woven and interwovenis the tension between reconciling the vows and demands of marriage and one s personal vocation in life a tension mostly conveyed by unfurling and paralleling the vicissitudes of two characters who precipitate themselves headlong into wedlock, a state on which they both harbour illusions which seem to echo each other and which will turn out at odds with their highly idealistic vocations and ambitions in life We find the 19 year old Dorothea Brooke passionately wanting to devote herself to an scholarly clergyman, many years her senior, Edward Causabon, seeking wisdom and enlightenment herself while the young doctor Tertius Lydgate dreams of a life of science, to be venerated and supported in this dream by the dedicated wife he sees in the mayor s daughter, Rosamond Vincyhis old dreamland, in which Rosamond Vincy appeared to be that perfect piece of womanhood who would reverence her husband s mind after the fashion of an accomplished mermaid, using her comb and looking glass and singing her song for the relaxation of his adored wisdom alone .
Both will bump into bitter reality as in a sense for both marriage serves as a means to an end, the only possible outcome might have been disillusion on the nature of marriage Dorothea finds her assistance unwelcome to her husband, while Tertius learns a ravishing appearance can hide a disgraceful and to this reader appalling selfishness Their misfit marriages will eventually be counterpoised by a third, wonderfully balanced relationship, one of strong bonding based on ratio as well as emotions, a couple building a future on what could be seen as fundamental resemblances and complementary differences complementarity far subtle painted by Eliot than in a simple traditional division of the gender roles Here is a relationship of mutual support and understanding for which both Dorothea and Tertius good natured, but dreamers longed for in vain however the initial pangs of disenchantment for both will have quite different consequences Eliot s presentation of what seems ideal marriage as a union of free spirited individuals, united by true companionship as loving comrades, struck me as rather progressive or modern for her times but I could be wrong in that assessment as well as touchingly relatable Reading Middlemarch to me not felt as escapism As Julian Barnes wrote in his essay A Life with books Life and reading are not separate activities, When you read a great book, you don t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it There may be a superficial escape into different countries, s, speech patterns but what you are essentially doing is furthering your understanding of life s subtleties, paradoxes, joys, pains and truths Reading and life are not separate but symbiotic.
His words ring quintessentially true with regard to Middlemarch with its gorgeous, gossamer prose, the plethora of fascinating characters, the manifold references to art, the perceptive dictums wearing an aphoristic suit showing a tremendous insight into the human psyche, its subtly humorous asides, its wisdom and sympathy for humankind, this brilliant novel might simply be a reader s dream, a way of experiencing the harmony of spheres Following the thread to light and life Eliot is weaving, reminded me that life in all its depth at times can be pure bliss.
Oh, the slow burn of genius.
I always tread lightly when it comes to using the word genius but there is no way around it here.
It took me a good 200 pages to fully get into the novel and its ornate 19th century turn of phrase but very quickly, I was so completely spellbound by its intelligence and wisdom that I couldn t put it down.
George Eliot s astonishing authorial voice is something to behold It takes the mis adventures of a handful of characters and peels their layers one by one with so much subtlety that you often have to reread a sentence several times to fully grasp the keenness of its observations.
The entire novel feels like a giant lens zooming in and out of human follies with such gusto and empathy that you cannot help but feel privileged to witness the inner workings of people s thoughts and re actions Not only does Middlemarch make you ponder many aspects of our motivations, desires, aspirations, limitations, ideals, dreams, behavior and inclinations but it keeps you on the edge of your seat like a ferocious psychological thriller.
The end will leave you teetering on the brink, revisiting all of your personal, deep seated assumptions about people, what is a successful life, what is a good marriage, how you measure goodness and your impact on others lives.
A work of vertiginous beauty.
Page 97 Ugh I m trying, guys, I really am But right now I m about 100 pages into this book, and the thought of getting through the next 700 is making me want to throw myself under a train And I almost never leave a book unread, so this is serious However, since it s on The List, I feel I should at least try to give it another chance But it s not going to be easy.
Here, in simplified list form, are the reasons I really, really want to abandon this book It s everything I hate about Austen boring dialogue and background information, endless nattering on about who s marrying whom with none of the dry wit that makes her stories enjoyable Dorothea is an insufferable, stuck up know it all and I hate her Also, her sister calls her Dodo in a horribly misguided attempt at affection, and every time I have to read it it s like a cheese grater to the forehead She s nineteen years old and is marrying a forty seven year old II just can t I know it s going to end badly which makes it slightly better but come on, Eliot Simply put, I don t care I don t care about these characters I don t care about their boring lives I don t care who marries whom and who is happy or not happy, and I really don t care about Dorothea s stupid cottage designs I get the sense that none of the things I listed are going to change I m strongly sensing that the next 700 pages of this book are going to be the same exact stuff about marriage and unhappiness and Dodo and blah blah blaaaaahhhhh Unless something really interesting is going to happen, I don t think I can keep going At this point, it would take a zombie uprising at Middlemarch to make me invested in these characters and their lack of struggle Page 190 Okay, I need to get to Part 5 before I can reasonably stop reading Hopefully something resembling a plot will happen soon Page 300 Nope Nothin yet.
Page 370 OH MY GOD I DON T CARE I DON T CARE SHUT UP SHUT UP WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME ALL OF THIS GEORGE ELIOT WHHHHHHHYYYYYYYPage 409 Okay I tried No one can say I didn t give this book a fair chance But I m halfway through and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED I just read 400 pages of some boring people going about their boring everyday business, and I m DONE Maybe I m just not sophisticated enough to understand this book s genius Maybe I can only be happy with a book if the characters are likeable and doing interesting things besides sitting around and thinking about how fucking miserable they all are Maybe it s just my fault for having a bad attitude about this book from the beginning Who knows But what I know for sure is this I got to my designated halfway point on the flight back from vacation, and when we landed I made sure to leave Middlemarch on the plane Hopefully it s adopted by someone who will love it than I did ADDENDUM I just consulted The List to check this book off, and I decided to see if there were any other George Eliot books on it Including Middlemarch, there are five Eliot books I m supposed to read before I die FIVE Goddamn it.
I am spoiled at the moment with my literary discoveries I once again enjoyed George Eliot s Middlemarch, a pavement of nearly 1000 pages, a fantastic story of a small village in England where the destinies of several locals meet and where from the very first pages we embark In a great adventure The novel focuses on several couples Dorothea Brooke and M.
Casaubon, a boring ecclesiastic, followed by Dorothea and Will Ladislaw, whom we follow throughout history the unhappy marriage of Tertius Lydgate, an ambitious but touching doctor, with Rosamond Vincy, a vulgar young woman wishing to arouse the admiration of all her neighbors finally, the couple Fred Vincy Mary Garth, whom I most appreciated In addition, the characters are all interesting than the others, offering a variety of characters among the individuals that the reader has the chance to meet Personally, I preferred the character of Dorothea Brooke, so endearing through her choices, the difficult moments of her life, her generosity to the doctor Lydgate for example, and finally, access to happiness at the end of the novel I also liked all the male characters, including M Lydgate, Will Ladislaw or Fred Vincy.
Finally, George Eliot depicts the society of her time down to the smallest detail, which allows us to participate in some animated discussions, or to take part in scandals upsetting the village and its surroundings So I loved this wonderful novel by George Eliot, which despite some flaws though very rare is obviously one of the greatest of English literature.
This is the best book ever written, and why would you even think that Who cares It seems like a particularly male thing to do, this categorizing, this ranking When George Eliot introduces Casaubon, a compulsive categorizer who has accomplished nothing of value, it feels like than a character It s a warning She keeps quoting Eve from Paradise Lost, who was impressed by a man and look how that turned out Eliot s talking about women following men and their dumb, arcane knowledge Dorothea wants to be part of something grand, and the very idea is patriarchal She ends up lost in a tomb This is Casaubon, the archetypal mansplainer so many facts, so little truth.
So she leads with this grand male ambition, The Key To All Mythologies, but she s heading somewhere else Here s the quote that she s spending 800 pages aiming 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.
And you re like oh, fuck yeah, right Unhistoric acts are my whole jam This is the truth most of us will be regular We can hope to find love, or at least acceptance We hope that the cumulative effect of very many of us trying to do or less the right thing will be that the world is or less nice A few of us will create great art, or live great lives Very many of us will wish we had George Eliot thinks we should settle down.
People are surprised when they find out that I read mostly classics What forthey ask It sounds boring What are you getting out of this At its worst, it s some kind of Casaubonesque desire to know everything about something.
I hope there s some kind of cumulative effect of empathy and perspective But this here, Middlemarch, is the only book I ve ever read that changed the way I look at my entire life It teaches me to settle down I m in the process of living faithfully a hidden life here So perhaps are you Coming to terms with that isn t just a lesson, it s the lesson, right It s the whole game It s either this or buy a convertible and re pierce my ear I read classics in hopes of finding something this good again.
Okay so the whole game is in here, and the funny thing about this being the best book ever is that for the best book ever it is fucking boring There s this whole part, like the middle third or so, that s frankly deadly It happens about a hundred pages in you ve been having a grand old time with Dorothea and her shitty old husband who can t even fuck right, and all of a sudden Eliot starts introducing new people It s not that they re not great well, some of them aren t, I m sorry but Mary and Fred are boring But Rosamond She s so awfulShe s terrific and she very nearly runs off with the book Casaubon is a bad man Rosamond is a bad woman, and her damage to Lydgate is much worse.
Rosamond is what Eliot started with, in fact that was supposed to be the book She was to be a response to the realist landmark Madame Bovary Eliot decided she needed a counterweight in Dorothea, and then I don t know what all else happened That climactic confrontation between Dorothea and Rosamond, for one thing what a scene, right Eliot is one of the most compassionate writers, and here s where she puts her money down There s this complicated structure she builds pretty Ladislaw, the banker Bulstrode, an old scandal, some surprisingly Victorian plot twists, given that Middlemarch is itself a realist landmark Rather talk about doctors than you needed A lot of this stuff is boring.
There s a famous quote from Virginia Woolf, who called Middlemarch one of the few English novels written for grown up people She called it that despite all its imperfections, by the way, she thought it was boring too But that s a grown up message, that bit about the tombs So here we are, right Grown ups, living faithfully our hidden lives, hoping to find peace with our unremarkableness Here s the peace You gotta make it through a boring part in the middle, but at the end you ll look back and find it was the best thing ever.
I had heard about this book from a few English teachers It was said to be the quintessential British novel but that it was overly long, had too many characters, and was overall a political novel This too was said of other books like Anna Karenina and War and Peace not the English novel part, but the other stuff It was such a discouragement Comments like these made the books seem almost beyond my reach and comprehension I asked about the book, wondering if Gabby was reading it for her advanced English class, and was relieved when her mom, Linda said that it was she that was reading it, and for the fifth time nonetheless It was her favorite book, she said, and I learned that she was also a high school English teacher When we started discussing it, and my love of Thomas Hardy, everyone else just disappeared She took me into her study, and I had a look around her library I was overwhelmed that Gabby could have parents that loved reading and encouraged their children to read too Not only that, but they loved classic literature right along with Danielle Steel and James Michener Looking back now, I realize it was probably the first bookish discussion that wasn t penned in an essay for my teachers eyes alone or some other assignment It was refreshing From that day on, I vowed to myself that I too would one day own a standing Kitchen Aide mixer because what kitchen is complete without one , and I would undertake the reading of Middlemarch.
It s essential that you know this back story because it would explain why I own three hardcopy editions, two kindle editions, and an audio edition of the book It s almost as if I wanted to prevent any excuses I might have for putting it off, and I have for fifteen years That I ve finally read it feels like such a huge accomplishment I can say with certainty that up to today, this is my favorite book I adore Dorothea She is such a unique character, often described as an odd type of woman one that is both reverenced and respected as a man I also admire Mary Garth and her father, Caleb, my two other favorite characters The rest of the townsfolk that round out the novel create a tasty gumbo of gossip and family histories While politics and reform had a bearing on many of the storylines, it wasn t difficult to understand with the help of a few online tools.
On the whole and in my humble opinion, this is a novel of marriage its disappointments, challenges, and triumphs It s about the sacrifices people make and the mistakes they make in choosing suitable mates Having made a poor decision in my previous marriage, so much about this book touched me deeply Not that one has to be married, unhappily married or divorced to appreciate the book So many of the genial characters were singletons, and served as a sort of control group, who although having their own share of difficulties, were still quite happy Marriage, which has been bourne of so many narratives, is still a great beginning, as it was to Adam and Eve, who kept their honeymoon in Eden but had their first little one among the thorns and thistles of the wilderness It is still the beginning of the home epic the gradual conquest or irremediable loss of that complete union which makes the advancing years a climax and age the harvest of sweet memories in common A friend s review urged that one should really take their time in reading this book, because once finished, the characters would be greatly missed I ve already felt a strong twinge of sadness at saying goodbye, even if only temporarily Like Gabby s mom, LindaI m sure I ll revisit this book quite frequently As for the KitchenAid mixer I ve never been able to excuse the purchase because I don t bake a lotbut it s still up there on my bucket list, along with Become a finalist on The Great British Baking Show.
Take this for granted Middlemarch will haunt your every waking hour for the duration you spend within its fictional provincial boundaries At extremely odd moments during a day you will be possessed by a fierce urge to open the book and dwell over pages you read last night in an effort to clarify newly arisen doubtsWhat did Will mean by that What on earth is this much talked about Reform Bill What will happen to poor Lydgate Is Dorothea just symbolic or realistic And failure to act on your impulses will give rise to irritation The world all around you will cease to matter and you will be forced to perform everyday tasks on autopilot mode, partly zombified, completely at the mercy of this wonderful, wonderful book Even hours after you turn over the last page, Middlemarchers and their manifold conundrums and self delusions will maintain their firm grasp on your consciousness What I mean by these not at all far fetched generalizations, is that Middlemarch is engaging, suspenseful and readable Profoundly so Despite its dense outlay of character arcs dovetailing into the politics of the community, subplots jostling against each other for primacy and the reader s attention, vivid commentary by an omniscient narrator who interjects often to shape a reader s perception, and the painstakingly detailed inner lives of its zealous hero and heroine struggling to hold on to their lofty ideals in the face of sobering reality and suffocating marriages, everything moves at a breakneck speed I never knew when I ran out of pages to tear through There are few happy coincidences here and certainly no deus ex machinas to bestow easy resolution on conflicts Characters do not stumble upon gentrified fulfillment accidentally, those persecuted because of theirlower birthdo not magically acquire status and wealth, thereby proving beyond doubt that Mary Ann Evans meant to contravene the most fundamental of tropes created by her celebrated contemporaries Instead they wrestle with their own conscience, hypocrisies, prejudices, mortal desires and fatalistic judgments The day to day grind deepens their spiritual crisis, derails their noble mission of being a part, however insignificant, of the progress story of the world at large, makes them realize the futility of the individual s struggle against the forces that govern society Some emerge victorious, able to cling to the passions and ardors that drive them ahead in life despite the inclemency of their circumstances While others flail and flounder, succumbing to the tyranny of material wants and demanding, selfish spouses If that s not bitter reality served up on a plate I don t know what is.
If I am asked to pick one flaw with the plot and characters, I must confess I had considered withholding a star initially because of the book s treatment of Dorothea and the infuriating Ladislaw Dorothea arc which made me want to quit reading out of pure frustration Evans fascination with subjecting every character s mental makeup to her trenchant irony seemed to expire every time her beloved heroine came into the picture Frequent comparisons with the Virgin Mary and St Theresa and references to her queenly grace made me skeptical about her credibility as a character of flesh and blood in a narrative otherwise populated with believable, fallible men and women Is she merely symbolic then of a life dominated by asoul hunger , completely immune to the mundane concerns of quotidian living Why must her womanhood be almost deified and worshipped But thankfully Dorothea is salvaged and humanized in the end, when she lets her own romantic passions overpower her altruistic zestthe 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 Many may disapprove of the choice but if I had to name one book very similar to Middlemarch in thematic content and in terms of a multiple perspective narrative structure set against a modern backdrop, then Rowling s The Casual Vacancy comes to mind In fact, it is hard not to figure out the connection after having read both books If the slew of unfavorable reviews on GR and elsewhere nipped your interest in the bud, I urge you to give it a shot Unworthy of literary immortality as it maybe, perhaps, it still offers an intricately detailed portrait of a small town and how individual choices shape the destiny of a society Of course it is no Middlemarch as no book ever will be but it is where Rowling shows her true calibre as a novelist And really, it is not as horrid as most reviewers made it out to be Far from it.
Alternate Cover For ISBN Middlemarch Is Perhaps The Masterpiece Of A Writer Who Is Now Recognized As A Major Literary Figure Of The Nineteenth Century Virginia Woolf Hailed As One Of The Few English Novels Written For Adult People This Magnificent Work In Which George Eliot Paints A Luminous And Spacious Landscape Of Life In A Provincial Town With Sure An Subtle Touch She Draws Together The Links Of The Rural Network Dorothea, A Modern St Teresa Dr Lydgate, The Young Doctor Defeated By Self And Circumstance Rosamond, That Masterly Study In Triviality And Egoism, And The Unprepossessing And Doomed Banker, Bulstrode Indeed, In Her Analysis Of Human Nature George Eliot Achieved What Dr Leavis Has Called A Tolstoyan Depth And Reality 853 Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life, George EliotMiddlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life is a novel by the English author George Eliot, first published in eight installments volumes during 1871 72 The novel is set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch during 1829 32, and it comprises several distinct though intersecting stories and a large cast of characters Significant themes include the status of women, the nature of marriage, idealism, self interest, religion, hypocrisy, political reform, and education 1992 1369 1 626 2 601 9646564178 1379 1383 1387 19 1229.