Middlemarch



Taking Place In The Years Leading Up To The First Reform Bill Of , Middlemarch Explores Nearly Every Subject Of Concern To Modern Life Art, Religion, Science, Politics, Self, Society, Human Relationships Among Her Characters Are Some Of The Most Remarkable Portraits In English Literature Dorothea Brooke, The Heroine, Idealistic But Naive Rosamond Vincy, Beautiful And Egoistic Edward Casaubon, The Dry As Dust Scholar Tertius Lydgate, The Brilliant But Morally Flawed Physician The Passionate Artist Will Ladislaw And Fred Vincey And Mary Garth, Childhood Sweethearts Whose Charming Courtship Is One Of The Many Humorous Elements In The Novel S Rich Comic VeinMiddlemarch

In 1819, novelist George Eliot nee Mary Ann Evans , was born at a farmstead in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, where her father was estate manager Mary Ann, the youngest child and a favorite of her father s, received a good education for a young woman of her day Influenced by a favorite governess, she became a religious evangelical as an adolescent Her first published work was a religious poe In 1819, novelist George Eliot nee Mary Ann Evans , was born at a farmstead in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, where her father was estate manager Mary Ann, the youngest child and a favorite of her father s, received a good education for a young woman of her day Influenced by a favorite governess, she became a religious evangelical as an adolescent Her first published work was a religious poem Through a family friend, she was exposed to Charles Hennell s An Inquiry into the Origins of Christianity Unable to believe, she conscientiously gave up religion and stopped attending church Her father shunned her, sending the broken hearted young dependent to live with a sister until she promised to reexamine her feelings Her intellectual views did not, however, change She translated David Strauss Das Leben Jesu, a monumental task, without signing her name to the 1846 work After her father s death in 1849, Mary Ann traveled, then accepted an unpaid position with The Westminster Review Despite a heavy workload, she translated Ludwig Feuerbach s The Essence of Christianity, the only book ever published under her real name That year, the shy, respectable writer scandalized British society by sending notices to friends announcing she had entered a free union with George Henry Lewes, editor of The Leader, who was unable to divorce his first wife They lived harmoniously together for the next 24 years, but suffered social ostracism and financial hardship She became salaried and began writing essays and reviews for The Westminster Review Renaming herself Marian in private life and adopting the nom de plume George Eliot, she began her impressive fiction career, including Adam Bede 1859 , The Mill on the Floss 1860 , Silas Marner 1861 , Romola 1863 , and Middlemarch 1871 Themes included her humanist vision and strong heroines Her poem, O May I Join the Choir Invisible expressed her views about non supernatural immortality O may I join the choir invisible Of those immortal dead who live again In minds made better by their presence D 1880.Her 1872 work Middlemarch has been described by Martin Amis and Julian Barnes as the greatest novel in the English language.More

[ Reading ] ➽ Middlemarch  Author George Eliot – E17streets4all.co.uk
  • Paperback
  • 904 pages
  • Middlemarch
  • George Eliot
  • English
  • 17 November 2019
  • 0451529170

10 thoughts on “Middlemarch

  1. says:

    I m thoroughly embarrassed to admit that this book was first recommended to me by my stalker Subsequently, I avoided MIDDLEMARCH like the plague, because it became associated with this creepy guy who thought the fastest way to my heart was to stare at me, follow me home, and leave obscene messages on my voice mail Flash forward 2 years, when I m purusing yet another of my favorite tomes, THE BOOK OF LISTS I m intrigued to see that the one book that consistently turns up on the Ten Favorite N I m thoroughly embarrassed to admit that this book was first recommended to me by my stalker Subsequently, I avoided MIDDLEMARCH like the plague, because it became associated with this creepy guy who thought the fastest way to my heart was to stare at me, follow me home, and leave obscene messages on my voice mail Flash forward 2 years, when I m purusing yet another of my favorite tomes, THE BOOK OF LISTS I m intrigued to see that the one book that consistently turns up on the Ten Favorite Novels list of various authors is you guessed it MIDDLEMARCH With recommendations from James Michener, Ken Follett, and William Trevor, I figured this was a book worth reading.What a beautiful surprise Nobody depicts the depth and breath of society better than George Elliot She shows both how people are shaped by their times and vice versa Add to this an intriguing story of Dorothea Brooke, a well meaning woman who wants to make a positive mark on the world Despite her best intentions, Dorothea soon learns that the world will go on, with or without her help This book is a sobering lesson for dreamers like myself who are always pondering, How can I make a difference After reading MIDDLEMARCH, I suspect George Elliot would answer, Stop taking yourself so seriously and get on with your life Nobody wants your help, so mind your own business A refreshing attitude, particularly in this self important culture.So, long story short If someone starts stalking you, change your phone number File a complaint with human resources Get a restraining order But before you do, be sure to ask el nutjob for some book and movie recommendations Because chances are, after obsessively watching your every move, this freak probably knows you better than you know yourself

  2. says:

    Best Goddamned Book Ever.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.

  3. says:

    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 m 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

  4. says:

    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 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 itthan 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

  5. says:

    1832,1867, , , 1832,1867, , ,, , , ,, , , , ,, , 1830, , ,, , , ,, , , , , , ,,

  6. says:

    It is one thing to like defiance, and another thing to like its consequences Middlemarch is a towering achievement It s tough to find words strong enough to describe it I mean, I just finished Madame Bovary and called it perfect, so where do I go from there Middlemarch is almost three times as long and it s still perfect that simpressive But Anna Karenina is pretty close to perfect too, so now what Here s what Middlemarch is the best novel that s ever been written That s the trut It is one thing to like defiance, and another thing to like its consequences Middlemarch is a towering achievement It s tough to find words strong enough to describe it I mean, I just finished Madame Bovary and called it perfect, so where do I go from there Middlemarch is almost three times as long and it s still perfect that simpressive But Anna Karenina is pretty close to perfect too, so now what Here s what Middlemarch is the best novel that s ever been written That s the truth.Tolstoy is a realistic writer his characters are real, complicated people with real lives Among other things, that means that they don t always get neat little character arcs Tolstoy s plots don t always come together in a tidy bow By comparison, guys like Hugo and Dickens operate in slightly surreal worlds their characters stories weave in and out of each other, often by means of coincidences that would be unlikely in real life That s very satisfying from a plot point of view, but I know it bothers some people who can t get over its unlikeliness.And here s Eliot, walking a tightrope right over both of those methods Her characters do intersect they all come together eventually and they have enormously satisfying arcs But it all happens completely naturally She sets up each person s personality so carefully, so exquisitely, that everything that happens subsequently feels perfectly inevitable It s one of the most tightly plotted books I ve ever read Not a thread out of place It s an astonishing feat There are times when I put the book down just to say, I can t believe she s pulling this off It s like the first time you get a handjob Technically, this is something I ve experienced hundreds of times beforebut holy shit, is it better You can borrow that comparison for your thesis if you want I don t mind.And her writing I threw a few of my favorite lines here and there in this review She s hilarious and brilliant, and her mastery of language is staggering The troublesome ones in a family are usually either the wits or the idiots So okay, yeah, we should mention that it does take a while to get going I didn t really figure out what Eliot was up to until about 400 pages in That s a very long time I had fragmented reading time during that period, so it s partly my fault, but I m not the first to mention that Middlemarch isn t quick off the blocks Normally I would say that prevents a book from being called perfect but Eliot s so aware of what she s doing, and what she s doing is so brilliant, that I think Middlemarch actually earns the right to be a little boring for a while The return on investment is extraordinarily generous He felt the scenes of his earlier life coming between him and everything else, as obstinately as when we look through the window from a lighted room, the objects we turn our backs on are still before us, instead of the grass and the trees A few years ago I had this flash of insight about a new friend I d been making We d been hanging out for a couple of months, and one night she said something dismissive about someone else and all of a sudden, all the pieces I d gotten to know fell into place and I knew her Oh I thought She s a narcissistic twat I m sure we all know how it feels, that moment when you finally really get someone And Eliot works like that Character spoilers, and also a very bad word, ahoy view spoiler I went back and forth on Dorothea several times before I finally realized what Eliot was showing me a naive but good person groping for meaning, and fucking it up several times along the way And it took me a while to realize that Rosamond s not just vacant she s my favorite villain since Heathcliff God, what a cunt hide spoiler The tender devotedness and docile admiration of the ideal wife must be renounced, and life must be taken up on a lower stage of expectation, as it is by men who have lost their limbs Okay, Middlemarch requires some patience and commitment But it s so worth it Ten stars, guys A hundred stars Millions and millions of stars This book is a unicorn It doesn t reveal itself easily, but when it does, it s magic You will never read a better book, because one doesn t exist Edition notes this Penguin edition has a serviceable intro, but it s very short on endnotes For example each chapter begins with an epigram, but many of them are unattributed I now know that the unattributed ones were written by Eliot thanks Carla , but an endnote to clue me in at the time would have been lovely, yes

  7. says:

    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 y 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 hercelebrated 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

  8. says:

    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 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 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 soperfect 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 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

  9. says:

    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 1868 they were published three years later , it is set in roughly 1829 1832, 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 1868 they were published three years later , it is set in roughly 1829 1832, 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 19th Century determinism was to a large extent due to Darwinism The question to be considered in this regard is, do people lackall free will are their actions predetermined by their genetic make up, and or their psychological background, or do people have a real opportunity to make an impact on the world, and to be responsible for their actions 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 The good outcome of the marriages don t depend on divine providence any, as it tended to in novels written before the realist humanist rationalist style that Eliot to a large extent pioneered, came into being it is now the forces and expectations of society.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 towardspractical 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..and lose their heads as had so many of the French aristocracy 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 General influences here, were Bichat, Lyley, Claude Bernard, Auguste Comte T.H Huxley, John Stuart Mill, William Whewell, Herbert Spencer,and G.H 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 1833 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 1932 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.A note of interest In 1819 Ren La nnec invented the stethoscope, one of the instruments mentioned in the novel at that point in time, this was something quite cutting edge and new.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 hide spoiler Time and time again, Eliot illustrates the frustration that an intelligent woman had to endure in Victorian Englandthere was the stifling oppression of that gentlewoman s world, where everything was done for her and none asked for her aid where the sense of connection with a manifold pregnant existence had to be kept up painfully as an inward vision, instead of coming from without in claims that would have shaped her energies I noted Eliot s strong interest in Saint Theresa of Avila, whom she introduces in her prologue, and found it rather representative of Eliot s idealistic bent.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 itinterestingly, and in less of a schoolmarmish tone.The novel would beenjoyable 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.Eliot as author narrator just glares at you from every page.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 I subtracted at least 1 star for my gripes as mentioned above No doubt MS Eliot AKA Evans Cross was a very intelligent and learned lady, delightful to those who knew her personally, I m sure, but her tone is simply too didactic for my tastes 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

  10. says:

    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.S 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.In a letter to his friend and painter Anthon van Rappard, from Marc 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.S 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.In a letter to his friend and painter Anthon van Rappard, from March 1884 that is, just four years after George Eliot s death , Van Gogh wrote While Eliot is masterly in her execution, above and beyond that she also has a genius all of her own, about which I would say, perhaps one improves through reading these books, or perhaps these books have the power to make one sit up and take notice. And the second may seem at first from an unrelated book and matter My suspicion, though, is that Mary Ann Evans would have been pleased for the connection between Carl Sagan s Cosmos and her novel A book is made from a tree It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts still called leaves imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles 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 youbold letters are mine So we have one genius recognizing another and showing awareness of the artifice in which an artist engages masterly in her execution 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.Author 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 Not in the least Instead I found myself perking up and underlying whenever I heard or read the Narrator s clear voice 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 himOr must not we, being impartial, feel with him a littleOr 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 wrongBut fascinating were those of the Narrator s claim to be acting as a natural historian But Fielding lived when the days were longer for time, like money is measured by our needs We belated historians must not linger after his exampleOr evenastounding, to those which betray the notion that the Narrator is artificer And here I am naturally led to reflect on the means of elevating a low subject. Which means that the Narrator is aware of the rivalry between a painter and a writer Which of those two arts ispersuasivepainting and Plastik are poor stuff after all 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 as if a woman were a mere colored superficies.And yet, even if this Narrator is also part of the fictional structure of the work, and serves as a mechanism for the reader to enter without participating on the world narrated, and is not the Author, nonetheless I cannot fail to hear that this voice has a very particular tone and timbre 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *