Middlemarch (French Edition)
Casaubon speaks of his "desultory vivacity", Mrs. He acts unusually -- playing with the local children, stretching out on the floor if it so pleases him, etc. And he is, of course, attracted to Dorothea -- and he knows her better than she knows herself at least at the beginning , pinning her down exactly: I suspect that you have some false belief in the virtues of misery and want to make your life into a martyrdom.
Ladislaw is very open, generally speaking his mind in this he -- like Celia and the delightful Mary Garth -- is among the more sympathetic characters. Still, he stands out oddly in this decorous i. And he can be a whiner too: "I suppose one gets a habit of doing without happiness or hope", he tells Dorothea, playing the sympathy card much too hard.
Will they or won't they is, of course, one of the novel's big questions, though Eliot seems to get a bit bored with it after a while. Another story-line is also very prominent: that of the "very intellectual and clever" doctor, Lydgate, new to town and also with grand ambitions. Intellectualism is, of course, a curse, especially in provincial Middlemarch, and Lydgate promptly lives up to type. He also marries incorrectly, wedding Rosamond who is, unfortunately, also clever in her own way. Rosamond's fancy tastes and expectations and Lydgate's sense of honour and limited means are a recipe for disaster.
By the end poor Rosamond finds: "her married life had fulfilled none of her hopes and had been quite spoiled for her imagination. Interestingly, Lydgate -- like Dorothea -- expresses an inability to enjoy or even just deal with the artistic experience: "Oh, I read not literature now" Eliot has him say; "I read so much when I was a lad that I suppose it will last me all my life. Lydgate and Rosamond's marriage is best summed up by how they react to their troubles: "He did not speak to her on the subject, and of course she could not speak to him. These silences and a general unwillingness to share information and speak one's mind are far too prevalent in the novel.
Tellingly, the honest, open-mouthed folk -- Ladislaw, Celia, Mary Garth and Fred Vincy, and some others -- fare far and away better than all the secretive, buttoned-up souls. And when one of them -- Mary -- is burdened with a big secret, it conveniently turns out to be completely inconsequential. There are a few big secrets, including some around banker Bulstrode that eventually touch nearly everyone in the book.
This dreadfully annoying literary device was, of course, in full flower when Eliot wrote Middlemarch , but it is still no excuse. Matters aren't helped by the fact that she doesn't use the secrets to ideal purpose, unfolding them somewhat clumsily and, we repeat, dreadfully annoyingly. It is the most artificial aspect of an otherwise very realistic novel. There are other plot lines as well: rich man Featherstone and the terms of his will s , the wooing of Mary Garth, local politics including the coming of the railroad , and other events.
The novel does provide a fair "study of provincial life" at the time -- though Eliot doesn't manage to keep the focus on many of the matters. In fact, the book seems often to drift literally out of focus. Still, there is a great deal here, including many engaging characters and stories. The book is fully populated, and several of the minor characters are particular successes while a few others are simply too simply presented.
Mary Garth is a nice presence, and the scene in which Farebrother speaks to her on behalf of Fred with the realization only slowly dawning on her that he too is a suitor is among the most touching in the book. Eliot has some strange lapses in the book.
Her priorities are odd: marriage, that meeting of minds and melding of souls, is a major concern throughout, but some of its consequences only remarked upon in the most offhanded manner. So, for example, she writes of troubled Dorothea Books were of no use. Thinking was of no use. It was Sunday, and she could not have the carriage to go to Celia, who had lately had a baby.
That is the first mention of Celia's child -- an event surely worthy of greater attention. But children, babies especially, don't fare well in this book: they are hardly worth mentioning, and most arrive only incidentally or in fact after the story itself is largely over, in the summing up of the finale-chapter. There are a few fairly happy families the Garths, in particular , but for the most part "family" isn't an ideal Eliot much cares for: Dodo and Celia are orphans -- and Dorothea manages to get herself widowed before she can really start a family of her own, Ladislaw's and Casaubon's family is hardly exemplary, Rosamond and Lydgate fail miserably at starting a family, and so on.
The airy idealism of Dorothea and Lydgate is also annoying. Lydgate and Rosamond. Henry James also has some opinions of the minor characters of the novel. He views Mr. Brooke and Mr. The minor character he gives the most negative review of is Mr. He believes that by the end of the novel, the reader never pays attention to him. However, he does have some specific reservations about a few aspects of her work in Middlemarch. Tip: To turn text into a link, highlight the text, then click on a page or file from the list above. If you want to contribute: wiki words of wisdom. Contemporary Reviews of Middlemarch.
There's a famous quote from Virginia Woolf, who called Middlemarch "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people. 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. View all 59 comments. Joanne Fate Great. Another book for the wish list.
I've always wondered about this, but not enough to bother checking it out. Now I need this Jun 25, PM. Alex Oh Joanne, if there's one thing I can influence you to do in your whole life, I hope it's this book. Jun 25, PM. I am spoiled at the moment with my literary discoveries!! I once again enjoyed George Eliot's Middlemarch, a pavement of nearly 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 L I am spoiled at the moment with my literary discoveries!! In addition, the characters are all more 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.
View all 29 comments. If I told you that my obsession with Middlemarch began with a standing KitchenAid mixer, you'd expect me to elaborate. It started one summer day when I was a teenager. My friend had invited me over to her house for a movie night and sleep over. Though our families had known each other since before either of our births, my friend and I had just recently reconnected with the help of a graduation party and AOL. The joys of dial up Internet. When I arrived, I was shown into the kitchen where my fri If I told you that my obsession with Middlemarch began with a standing KitchenAid mixer, you'd expect me to elaborate.
When I arrived, I was shown into the kitchen where my friend was in the midst of baking a batch of cookies with her mother. Her dad sat at the kitchen table reading an economics book, throwing in teasing remarks about our childhood antics while we all got reacquainted. It all seemed so I was uncomfortably envious of my friend and her family. Two things in particular heightened this feeling.
The gleaming navy blue standing KitchenAid mixer enshrined on the granite countertop. It was a recent gift to my friend, Gabby from her parents, since she was the glorified baker in the family. The other was an enormous, well-loved tome called Middlemarch , not far from the mixer, with a small scrap of paper protruding from the center of the spine, no doubt a thoughtless book marker. 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.
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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?
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.
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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. 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. I've already felt a strong twinge of sadness at saying goodbye, even if only temporarily.
Like Gabby's mom, Linda I'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 lot View all 68 comments. 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 doubts - 'What 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? 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 their 'lower birth' do 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 more 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.
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Is she merely symbolic then of a life dominated by a 'soul 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 zest. 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. View all 40 comments. Jan 05, Traveller rated it really liked it Shelves: victorian , classics. Since I've been told bigger is better, and long reviews are better than short ones, I've decided to update my short Middlemarch review with a long one: Although Eliot started working on the serialised chapters of Middlemarch around about they were published three years later , it is set in roughly , so writing it took place roughly 40 years after the setting which gave her the advantage of hindsight.
It is partly this, and the fact that Eliot did a lot of conscientious research, t Since I've been told bigger is better, and long reviews are better than short ones, I've decided to update my short Middlemarch review with a long one: Although Eliot started working on the serialised chapters of Middlemarch around about they were published three years later , it is set in roughly , so writing it took place roughly 40 years after the setting which gave her the advantage of hindsight. It is partly this, and the fact that Eliot did a lot of conscientious research, that enabled her to render the period with such historical accuracy.
Aristophanes, Plato, and Goethe, Feuerbach, Spinoza, and Auguste Comte all had an influence on Eliot's thought; -though she seems to illustrate in Middlemarch a kind of social determinism. It seems to me that she is saying that your class will to a large extent determine how you live which was largely true still in the era that the novel is set in. Individual character and 'moral fiber' is important to Eliot, but in her novel personal ideals easily become shipwrecked on the rocks of what the forces of society has pre-ordained for you.
Eliot seems to lean towards the idea that good intentions don't necessarily spell success, and not only character plays a role: choices and environment do too. However, the choices of Eliot's characters are subjugated by the forces of society. The characters play out what seems to be pre-set "roles" for them; no matter how they struggle, like flies in a web, they eventually have to conform to the role society has laid out for them. The portrayal of marriages play a large role in Middlemarch, in illustrating various things.
In the marriages that Eliot portrays, we see mainly personal character coming into play with the strictures of society, and the ways in which the latter confines these people decides on the final happiness or not of the characters. Material wealth and affluence play a large part, too, in how the characters manage to handle the forces society exerts upon the individual: at least four of the marriages are "made or broken" in part by how the protagonists manage to attain their wealth, but there is a very complex interplay regarding how the characters manage or attain their wealth.
An important early influence in Eliot's life was religion. She was brought up within a Low Church Anglican family, but she soon rejected religion in favor of the aforementioned schools of thought. The importance of morals and 'duty' still remained deeply ingrained in her belief system, though. The possession of knowledge, and the use of that knowledge is highly praised by Elliot. She makes a distinction between the dead and irrelevant knowledge that her character Casaubon displays, and the living and useful knowledge that her characters Lydgate, Farebrother and Mrs Garth possess.
The 19th century saw a great move towards more "practical" thought. Scientific thought was starting to revolutionize every sphere of human life. It is probably of use to take cognizance of the industrial sociopolitical background to the period that the novel covers: The 19th century was the age of machine tools - tools that made tools - machines that made parts for other machines, including interchangeable parts.
The assembly line was invented during the 19th century, speeding up the factory production of consumer goods. There was a lot of resistance towards automation from the lower classes, since many people were displaced from their work by machines, especially in the textile industry. In rural areas the remains of the feudal system could still be seen in that land tenants gave labour for the right of tenancy, but didn't receive much as payment, and often lived in very poor conditions. The industrial revolution saw a sharp rise in population, and resulting increase in a poverty-stricken lower class.
There were groups agitating for reform, but most of them confined themselves to lawful, non-violent means of supporting reform, such as petitioning and public oratory, and they achieved a great level of public support. The many social injustices such as young children working exceedingly long hours in mines and factories, and being made to do very dangerous work; industrialists preferring to employ women and children because they could get away with paying them less, etc, as well as the aftermath and influences of the French Revolution and humanism on general thought, was stirring winds and thoughts of political revolution throughout English society.
The upper classes, as quite humoristically portrayed by Mr Brooke in Middlemarch, would, according to Eliot's portrayal, albeit reluctantly, prefer to "go with the times" than to be "caught up in, or going against an avalanche"..
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The period also saw the rise of wealthy capitalists - all of these are represented in the novel, there is a family from each walk of life represented in Eliot's cast of characters. Middlemarch also illuminates many aspects of scientific thought at the time. The novel exhibits an extraordinary interest in medical politics, especially. Lewes, Eliot's companion. The 19th century gave birth to the professional scientist; interesting to note, is that the word 'scientist' was first used in by William Whewell.
In Middlemarch, Eliot pays a lot of attention to what is happening to the medical profession at the time. According to her various biographies, she did quite a bit of research into what was happening on the front of medical science. For instance, one of the historically true incidents reflected in Middlemarch, is that in a worldwide Cholera pandemic reached Britain. Lydgate, one of the protagonists of the novel, is involved in and very much interested in studying and treating fevers, such as Typhoid and Cholera.
Before the advent of the 18th century, the medical profession had not progressed much since classical times. In fact, people were probably even worse off in places like Christian hospitals, where the main cure given to patients was prayer. There had been, throughout the Middle Ages, a belief that the human body should remain intact after death, since it would rise up to heaven in a glorified state. In Middlemarch, we see this sentiment to some extent still prevalent, something which Eliot seems to deplore. Incidentally, it was a common theme in Victorian literature to paint doctors and students of science who wanted to dissect human bodies as "evil".
Of course, one needs to dissect the human body before you can research what it looks like inside, and how it works, so of course beliefs like these held back the progression of medical science. In the novel, Eliot also focuses on the aspect of gender inequality that existed at the time. Women didn't receive the same education as men, and especially upper class and aristocratic ladies were expected to be merely ornamental; view spoiler [ this is highlighted in especially the marriages of Dorothea with first Casaubon and later Will, as well as the marriage of Rosamond with Lydgate.
Dorothea, one of the protagonists, is compared throughout the novel to her. Saint Theresa was an idealistic religious mystic, who fought for reform in the church; Dorothea is similarly an idealistic dreamer, bent on reform, but totally out of touch with the practical realities of life. I think Saint Theresa probably mainly represents reform to Eliot, but also someone who led a dramatic, even heroic "epic" life, as the conclusion to the novel suggests.
In the latter, Dorothea fails, she never does anything large or heroic, but Eliot suggest that change can also be wrought in smaller, multitudinous pervasive acts. As far as Eliot's illustration in the novel of the institution of marriage is concerned, her different portraits of marriage is various and complex, so the message she seems to bring across is that a marriage can be beneficial to the partners only under a certain set of circumstances: if the marriage fits in with society, but above all, that the two partners be suited to one another.
Eliot herself knew only too well the sting of social disapproval, since she was forced to live with a still married man Henry Lewes could not divorce due to religious reasons , and society in general, even her own family, cut her off because of this. Eliot is known for attempting to establish realism in her novels, and I think she does that well, but for one little niggle I have - that loud very visible intrusion that she as author makes into the narrative.
This might be a thoughtful and thought-provoking work, but the best in English Literature? Not quite, in my book. For me there is too much narration and "interference" by the author's voice. I know this is part and parcel of Victorian writing, but really, when it's pages and pages apiece, it just becomes unbearable. Victor Hugo, one of my favorite authors, was also guilty of this, but somehow he does it more interestingly, and in less of a schoolmarmish tone. The novel would be more enjoyable if culled by about a quarter of all the pages of narration, some events and scenes are really carried on in too much detail, like for instance the comments and reactions of the townspeople regarding Lydgate - a lot of it gets repetitive and the tedious didactic commentary.
It's like Eliot hits you over the head with the same hammer a few times, to make sure that what she's trying to get across sinks in properly. Well, I salute all of you who actually read every unabridged word and still had the mental and emotional energy at the end, to give this book 5 stars.
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I subtracted at least 1 star for my gripes as mentioned above. However, given the scope she achieves, this novel is certainly a huge achievement. Bottom line - I reckon that all the work and erudition that went into this novel deserves a 4 at least, in spite of my grumbles.
I also laud Eliot's reformist attitudes, so I suppose one should try and look past a less than pleasing style. Mar 24, Manny rated it really liked it Shelves: older-men-younger-women , the-goodreads-experience. Since it's still Stalker Week here on Goodreads, I decided to create a new shelf, which I've called older-men-younger-women.
I hope that's neutral enough that I won't get flagged. My criterion is simple: a relationship between a man and a much younger woman needs to play an important part in the story. I trust we've already absorbed all the lessons that can usefully be drawn from these books, so I won Since it's still Stalker Week here on Goodreads, I decided to create a new shelf, which I've called older-men-younger-women.
I trust we've already absorbed all the lessons that can usefully be drawn from these books, so I won't dwell on them. My list also contains a considerable number of volumes from the wonderfully trashy Brigade Mondaine series. If you look at these, you'll get rather more offbeat advice: for example, don't get involved with an older man if he's investigating your twin sister for a grisly murder, or don't get involved with an older man if he's just using you to help get his regular girlfriend back from a gang of Chinese criminals who are threatening her with death by poisonous sea-snake.
Note: it's okay if poisonous sea-snakes aren't involved. But it was the classic novels that surprised me most. I'd quite forgotten that some of them belonged to this category, and Middlemarch is the star example. Girls, don't get involved with elderly academics. They'll try and get you to do things you really don't want to do. Disgusting things. I'm having trouble even saying this, but they'll They will. It's true. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to shock you, but it was necessary. Just say no. And run. View all 18 comments. The Author is not Marching hidden in the Middle. One could write a very long review just collating the various responses to this novel by subsequent writers.
In my edition the introduction was written by A. Byatt who quotes James Joyce and John Bayley. I have also encountered somewhere that Julian Barnes thinks this is the best novel written in English. I will not attempt that collage, but I wish to begin with two other quotes. And the second may seem at first from an unrelated book and matter. A book is made from a tree. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person—perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. And we have another genius drawing attention to the time-travel-artifacts that are books, because they allow us to be in direct contact with an Author from a previous age.
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Yes, Author. And well alive thanks to the books authored. In spite of what Modernist artists and writers have been playing with, and what Roland Barthes defended in his Death of an Author , I felt the Author was very near and clear in the Foreground of this novel. Had I read this book years ago, I may have been irritated by the overt presence of the Narrator. All those morals comments and those directions to the reader would have seemed to me to interfere and hinder the advancement of the action, or obstructed my own independent view.
The Folio Society releases George Eliot’s Middlemarch, illustrated by Pierre Mornet
Not in the least. Sitting up and taking notice , as Van Gogh had written. The utterances came in different tones and flavours. Sometimes warning or guiding the reader: The faults will not, I hope, be a reason for the withdrawal of your interest in him. Or providing us with a little moral aedification: We are most of us brought up in the notion that the highest motive for not doing a wrong is something irrespective of the beings who would suffer the wrong. We belated historians must not linger after his example.
Which means that the Narrator is aware of the rivalry between a painter and a writer. Which of those two arts is more persuasive? They perturb and dull conceptions instead of raising them. Language is a finer medium Language gives a fuller image, which is all the better for being vague.. The true seeing is within; and painting stares at you with an insistent imperfection And it was this awareness that kept me so excited during my read. For me this voice has a name: Mary Ann Evans.
And I have heard her inside my head, as Sagan says. View all 49 comments. The novel is set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch during —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 edu Significant themes include the status of women, the nature of marriage, idealism, self-interest, religion, hypocrisy, political reform, and education. View 2 comments.
Reading Middlemarch was an acquired taste. This was a slow and deliberate read, at first from mild skepticism to more curiosity. What most interested me was the breadth of human experience in this novel. Eliot is a savvy and learned writer. She refrains from falling back on the worst of Dickensian caricatures, but instead attempts to sketch out what people are, and how they interact with and shape each other.
The worst characters have some sympathetic face to them, the best have their own gashes Reading Middlemarch was an acquired taste. The worst characters have some sympathetic face to them, the best have their own gashes and flaws. They all stand out simply because they are so familiar. We know and recognize idealistic feelings or failings within ourselves, the impulse to try and 'save' another person, deflections or demurs. Our omniscient narrator truly is one. It is not just a literary definition, but the snarky wit and ceaseless descriptions are deeply impressing. It is like being a child again and taught by the most intimidating and brilliant professor you ever knew.
They touch on Fate - but not Fate as the ancient Greeks do, but fate as the influences of our society and our neighbors and family. They talk about Religion and the Pilgrim's Progress, but how religion can blind as well as heal. There's also a staggering amount of historical context in here.
This is a very big novel which wants to talk about everything, and in many ways it succeeds. A lot's been said about Middlemarch. I suspect a lot of it is true. I do know is that this is a place which deserves another visit, and I will return here again. View all 10 comments. Widely regarded as the quintessential Victorian novel, Middlemarch is a superb study of life among the upper and upper middle classes of a fictional rural community in s England.
It takes pages to draw its conclusions, but they're pages of some of the richest realist writing nineteenth-century literature has to offer, full of insights into society, human nature, what to do in life when one can't quite make one's dreams come true, and how to make a marriage work. I've seen it describe Widely regarded as the quintessential Victorian novel, Middlemarch is a superb study of life among the upper and upper middle classes of a fictional rural community in s England. I've seen it described as a book everyone should read before getting married, and I agree -- all the lessons you need to learn about human relationships are in here, and much more besides.
To a large extent, the success of Middlemarch is due to its characterisation. A character-driven novel if ever I saw one, Middlemarch features some of the most memorable characters Eliot ever came up with: an earnest young lady who wishes to make a difference; her husband, a petty and jealous scholar; a hot-tempered doctor who is a little ahead of his time; his wife, a living embodiment of the fact that pretty girls don't always make the best spouses; a pious banker who is not the good Christian he has always professed to be; his nephew, who desperately wishes to win the heart of the girl he loves despite his mounting gambling debts; a talented outsider who doesn't quite know how to make the most of his gifts -- they're all here, and they're described in admirable detail.
Like a scientist, Eliot puts her characters under a microscope, describing their every flaw and weakness, but always in a sympathetic way; even her worst characters have redeeming features, which makes it very easy to take an interest in their vicissitudes. Like an anthropologist, she then puts her characters into a socio-cultural context, showing the whole through the parts and the parts through the whole. The historical background political changes, the industrial revolution, new medical theories is magnificently drawn, and the stories there are many here are as fine as they come, featuring love triangles, thwarted prospects, intrigue, political aspirations, blackmail, gossip, characters meddling in other people's lives from beyond the grave, and a clash between old values and modern science and technology.
Granted, the book takes a while to hit its stride, but once it does, it's unputdownable. As for shortcomings, one could say that Eliot is occasionally a tad too intellectual for her own good. Frightfully well-read herself, she sometimes has her characters refer to things which seem a bit outside their scope. Likewise, she occasionally loses herself in technical and political details which slightly detract from the main stories, and takes so much time setting the scene for the great developments which are to follow later that the first half of the book is a tad dull.
The second half is brilliant, though -- up there with the great French and Russian realist classics of the period, and then some. Middlemarch is one of those books which yield new gems every time one reads them, and I cherish it for that. View all 8 comments. Once in a while a book comes along that I can't quite rate. Not because it's brilliant, or terrible, but because it has too many elements within it that make me feel different things-often polar opposites. This is one such book.