middlemarch

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this is a thread for middlemarch.

middlemarch.

j., Sunday, 8 June 2014 13:29 (eight years ago) link

I worry about turning into Casaubon sometimes.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 8 June 2014 13:36 (eight years ago) link

until I look in the mirror and remember I have better hair.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 8 June 2014 13:36 (eight years ago) link

the construction of the book I - book II transition is sneaky, slipping a few chapters of the vincys and lydgate in at the end of a whole book that had been mostly about the brookes and casaubon.

but i guess that's just supposed to be an artifact of serialization? : /

it's funny how all it takes to make things seem realistic for a second instead of Realistic is a quick shot of snarky do-nothing uni dropout fred vincy.

j., Sunday, 8 June 2014 13:38 (eight years ago) link

I read it for the third time a few months ago, awestruck by the construction, more aware of how finely Lydgate's fall was drawn -- and how small the impact when it happened.

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 8 June 2014 13:39 (eight years ago) link

i'm still having trouble with the narrator's tone, which i didn't expect because i really liked 'adam bede'.

kind of like the narrator takes some unearned satisfaction in immediately undercutting almost everything about every character, not sure how, maybe as if it's an achievement of the narrator's to have known better, which doesn't make sense since the narrator is the narrator

j., Sunday, 8 June 2014 13:43 (eight years ago) link

do you think the narrator undercuts Dorothea? At worst it's gentle ribbing (much like James and Isabel Archer).

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 8 June 2014 13:44 (eight years ago) link

One of my goals this summer is to read Middlemarch

Time to go retrieve my \m/ Norton Critical Edition \m/ of Middlemarch

, Sunday, 8 June 2014 13:44 (eight years ago) link

well, undercutting may not be the right term for it. in her case the lead is more about her capacity, talents etc., so despite her expressly rongheaded marriage choice it will more end up being the world/life that undercuts her in the long term

but i'm thinking more of the construction—how part of the characterization is to include the narrator's inside knowledge as imparted to us, so that we have kind of a double view of the characters, in terms of what they say/do with each other, what they think to themselves, and (ok i guess a triple view) what the narrator observes is really the case about them (even unbeknownst to themselves, like with fred's wishes clouding his ability to see what featherstone is up to).

it seems kind of, i dunno, unfair? too much of a thumb on the scale? for the narrator to always be butting in w/ countervailing remarks -just after- some aspect of character has been put on the page. i don't know why that should be, since of course if the text had more of an I-perspective surface to it, it would be straightforward to take it as a single literary fabric knitted together of a totality of information about its characters and action.

j., Sunday, 8 June 2014 13:58 (eight years ago) link

i sometimes wonder if the narrative tone is partly a product of Eliot's genuine anger towards that world, and thru it towards a big slice of her audience, and she doesn't want her readers to get comfy

arid banter (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 8 June 2014 14:06 (eight years ago) link

re yr first point i think for a long time the structure is that the book only goes from town to country if some member of either group physically does so? I was sort of in awe at how well that shit is handled when I read it

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 8 June 2014 14:08 (eight years ago) link

o on some moretti shit huh

j., Sunday, 8 June 2014 14:10 (eight years ago) link

Favorite book ever! But boy do I struggle when talking about it. I start to ramble about how awe-inspiring the author's intelligence and insight into _everything_ is and then anyone who hasn't read the book thinks it's going to be a heavy read and a chore and then I desperately interject w how many touching, emotional moments there are, but I'm not sure I'm convincing anyone. I sometimes feel the book is too complete for me to do it any sort of justice big upping it.

Was thinking of picking up "My Life in Middlemarch" to see how someone else spends an entire book attempting that.

abcfsk, Sunday, 8 June 2014 15:30 (eight years ago) link

my wife, who loves middlemarch and eliot in general, read like 30 pages of it and put it down. when pressed for a reason she was like ehhhhh new yorkery.

adam, Sunday, 8 June 2014 15:34 (eight years ago) link

one month passes...

Good job, Nietzsche. You'd think he'd have had some respect for Eliot's sensitivity to the complexity of ethical life. Eliot doesn't read to me like a fanatical moralizer. She's always emphasizing ethical difficulty as an epistemic problem: we harm each other by not properly seeing, comprehending, or acknowledging each other.

G. Eliot. — They are rid of the Christian God and now believe all the more firmly that they must cling to Christian morality. That is an English consistency; we do not wish to hold it against little moralistic females à la Eliot. In England one must rehabilitate oneself after every little emancipation from theology by showing in a veritably awe-inspiring manner what a moral fanatic one is. That is the penance they pay there.

We others hold otherwise. When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one's feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one's hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God is the truth — it stands and falls with faith in God.

When the English actually believe that they know "intuitively" what is good and evil, when they therefore suppose that they no longer require Christianity as the guarantee of morality, we merely witness the effects of the dominion of the Christian value judgment and an expression of the strength and depth of this dominion: such that the origin of English morality has been forgotten, such that the very conditional character of its right to existence is no longer felt. For the English, morality is not yet a problem.

jmm, Friday, 1 August 2014 15:56 (eight years ago) link

one year passes...

The news still wouldn't please Casaubon.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 December 2015 11:45 (seven years ago) link

i guess i should read some zadie smith, huh?

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/dec/08/best-british-novel-of-all-time-international-critics-top-100-middlemarch

scott seward, Tuesday, 8 December 2015 12:55 (seven years ago) link

oops sorry for linking that again. not awake yet...

scott seward, Tuesday, 8 December 2015 12:55 (seven years ago) link

also, i should read middlemarch. so many on that list i haven't read.

scott seward, Tuesday, 8 December 2015 12:56 (seven years ago) link

i guess i should read some zadie smith, huh?

Eh, I never get the love for her. her first book, White Teeth, was a very promising but baggy and flawed debut novel. her second one was awful. her third was a rewrite of a better E M Forster novel. Don't know much about her 4th. Her short fiction is slapdash. But everyone acts as though her every literary opinion was inscribed by God on a stone tablet.

as verbose and purple as a Peter Ustinov made of plums (James Morrison), Wednesday, 9 December 2015 01:02 (six years ago) link

I love that Villette is in the top 30 of a list of this kind now... I doubt that it'd happen five years ago.

abcfsk, Wednesday, 9 December 2015 06:03 (six years ago) link

eight months pass...

I had no idea this book was so much fun!

(caveats: kindle says I'm only abt 13% in; I didn't read thread yet for fear of spoilers)

anatol_merklich, Saturday, 27 August 2016 00:11 (six years ago) link

It stays fun!

I hear from this arsehole again, he's going in the river (James Morrison), Saturday, 27 August 2016 05:28 (six years ago) link

one of these days...

scott seward, Saturday, 27 August 2016 16:58 (six years ago) link

i'm still having trouble with the narrator's tone, which i didn't expect because i really liked 'adam bede'.

two years on this still seems weird to me

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Sunday, 28 August 2016 10:08 (six years ago) link

i liked their hamburg stuff but i just can't get behind 'revolver'

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Sunday, 28 August 2016 10:08 (six years ago) link

adam bede is grebt

j., Tuesday, 30 August 2016 06:45 (six years ago) link

it's wild fun in a way adam bede isn't, so maybe someone who doesn't like fun would prefer that book

abcfsk, Tuesday, 30 August 2016 14:30 (six years ago) link

I read Middlemarch for the third time two years ago and am looking forward to another read.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 30 August 2016 14:33 (six years ago) link

I read 100 pages of this book and it is legit funny. I had to put it aside at the time as college started. I'll return to it again though.

Neptune Bingo (Michael B), Tuesday, 30 August 2016 18:52 (six years ago) link

xxp i just like dairy maids and spirited lady preachers

j., Wednesday, 31 August 2016 02:49 (six years ago) link

THATS WHAT IM TALKIN ABOUT

j., Wednesday, 31 August 2016 03:53 (six years ago) link

eight months pass...

it is kind of unusual how much the narrator opines before the reader has a chance to make their own judgments. j otm.

I like this about the book though -- it's the opposite of what you're told to do in creative writing classes. and it works because the narrator is such a sharp reader of the characters

Treeship, Saturday, 6 May 2017 00:53 (five years ago) link

Well, it's a 19th century convention

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 6 May 2017 02:22 (five years ago) link

Yeah but it seems more pronounced here than in other 19th century novels so far. The narrator goes deep, examining each characters' contradictions, almost as soon as they are introduced.

Treeship, Saturday, 6 May 2017 02:34 (five years ago) link

i think eliot examines psychology as a material quantity - i.e. capable of analysis and representation with the same lucidity as the world and also having as much objective consequence as, say, money, or a town scene.

Fizzles, Saturday, 6 May 2017 04:59 (five years ago) link

or at least that's what i recall thinking when i read daniel deronda a couple of years ago. even though it is conventional, it's also kind of noticeable beyond that as you say treesh.

Fizzles, Saturday, 6 May 2017 05:01 (five years ago) link

otm, and Treesh otm, she isn't just an omniscient narrator, she's like a scientist talking you thru the rules and results of the experiments she's laying out

The Remoans of the May (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 6 May 2017 09:46 (five years ago) link

That sounds about right -- a phenomenological approach.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 6 May 2017 10:52 (five years ago) link

Also kind of mean! I take it personally whenever the narrator is rude about my (current) faves

Chuck_Tatum, Saturday, 6 May 2017 19:03 (five years ago) link

The World and His Wife---bet Virginia Woolf got a kick out of that. Also Margaret Atwood (thinking of wifely enforcers in The Handmaid's Tale).

dow, Sunday, 7 May 2017 02:40 (five years ago) link

Also, can imagine Flaubert or young Beckett or somebody writing a whole novel about Casaubon. As with Bartleby, I find him v. relatable, without really wanting to.

dow, Sunday, 7 May 2017 02:48 (five years ago) link

four weeks pass...

So, how does one pronounce Casaubon? In my head, I'd been reading it as "Cazza-bon" but I'd just heard "Ca-say-bon" and am wondering if I'd been saying/reading it differently all along. "Casaw-bin" is what a google result suggests. I'm neurotically fixating on his name each time I read it (which, at this point, about a third through the novel is quite often) and I'm very curious what others think.

Federico Boswarlos, Monday, 5 June 2017 02:19 (five years ago) link

In the BBC mini-series the characters said "Cazza-bonn" but my grad school professor said CA-SAW-BIN.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 5 June 2017 02:32 (five years ago) link

Cass-uh-bawn with my New Jersey accent

Treeship, Monday, 5 June 2017 02:34 (five years ago) link

I like the Jersey version. I've been reading it with what are seemingly slight variations each time and it's slowly begun morphing into "Cause-a-bon" and even less recognizable forms.

Apart from that, the book is wonderful. I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read it, though I can probably safely say that I'm enjoying it now much more than I would have in my late teens or early/mid 20s.

Federico Boswarlos, Monday, 5 June 2017 16:55 (five years ago) link

one month passes...

Oh my god this Fred Vincy needs to quit while he's ahead. He's got Mary's promise, her dad's given him a job, and he's still haranguing Mary's mother to forgive him for gambling away the money they lent him.

Cringing rn.

Treeship, Thursday, 3 August 2017 00:20 (five years ago) link

this is not the Trump thread

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 3 August 2017 02:18 (five years ago) link

That's strong. If I didn't have so much else to read, I'd think of reading it again. I did watch, for the 2nd or 3rd time, the 1994 TV version again last year. Very worthwhile, but might be less impressive to someone who's just read the book.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 2 September 2020 16:27 (two years ago) link

This is what the Penguin edition says about the ending revision:

Most of her corrections were minor, but she did revise the last two paragraphs of the novel in response to criticism that she seemed to blame society for Dorothea's mistaken marriage to Casaubon, when she had shown society to be, in fact, against the match.

George Eliot dropped these sentences from the second edition after recognizing that those critics were right who pointed out that Middlemarch society did not smile on Mr Casaubon's proposal.

So on its face it seems like the criticism was more about the internal logic of the book.

I'd say the prelude also makes the feminist point pretty explicit.

jmm, Thursday, 3 September 2020 13:54 (two years ago) link

I guess that is right about the marriage, which is a shame as the other criticisms stand but have less rhetorical force by themselves. As for the prelude, maybe, though it's somewhat sardonic and circumlocutory, and doesn't linger in the mind as something at the end of the book does.

neith moon (ledge), Thursday, 3 September 2020 15:07 (two years ago) link

six months pass...

Good book

Canon in Deez (silby), Friday, 2 April 2021 16:18 (one year ago) link

Possibly my favorite moment in Middlemarch is when Rosamond and Fred are bickering over breakfast:

"What would you think of me if I came down two hours after every one else and ordered grilled bone?"

"I should think you were an uncommonly fast young lady," said Fred, eating his toast with the utmost composure.

Lily Dale, Friday, 2 April 2021 17:01 (one year ago) link

Just finished this last night.

Chris L, Friday, 2 April 2021 17:29 (one year ago) link

Wow me too! Nice.

Canon in Deez (silby), Friday, 2 April 2021 17:33 (one year ago) link

lol Fred

horseshoe, Friday, 2 April 2021 18:41 (one year ago) link

seven months pass...

I just finished this on Sunday and have come back to ilx after months-long break simply to breathlessly and mostly mindlessly post about how much I loved this book. It had me from the first line and it did not let me go. I loved it so much I've already started rereading it again. I feel quite a bit smarter and more emotionally/relationally attuned than I did before reading it.

The Oxford World Classics edition is great (just the right amount of annotation for non-scholarly purposes; a beautiful cover) but I'm glad I left the Introduction for last: it's excellent but contains spoilers! Tsk tsk.

(I had to search for a Middlemarch thread, obv. but had a gut feeling that if there was one, Alfred would be in it. It's not a pigeonhole, Alfred, I promise, but rather -to use a word Eliot might have- a 'sensibility' I pick up from you).

keen reverberations of twee (collardio gelatinous), Thursday, 11 November 2021 03:44 (one year ago) link

I have the same Oxford World Classics edition too, currently halfway through. Agree it's devastatingly good.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 11 November 2021 09:35 (one year ago) link

Because I finally read Middlemarch at the beginning of the year and am finally finishing Anna Karenina toward the end of it, I can't help but compare the two. I think I find the world of Middlemarch more precisely constructed and perfectly flowing.

Chris L, Thursday, 11 November 2021 12:49 (one year ago) link

Cheers, collardio!

I reread Daniel Deronda in 2019. You're tempting me to give this one my fourth go.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 November 2021 13:36 (one year ago) link

this revive is finally going to make me give this ago. it sounds like exactly the kind of thing i would love.

Linda and Jodie Rocco (map), Thursday, 11 November 2021 16:49 (one year ago) link

I know I'm veering into overhyping this and I'm going to put everyone off, but I do want to recommend Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters to everyone who likes things like Middlemarch and Trollope's Barsetshire books. It's not as sweeping in scope as Middlemarch but she makes up for it with even more depth and nuance in the characterization imo.

Lily Dale, Thursday, 11 November 2021 16:59 (one year ago) link

Sounds familiar---maybe in my Mom's stash---will delve.
Meanwhile, local library only has this:
Cranford ; and, Cousin Phillis /
Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn, 1810-1865.
Published in the new Penguin Classics look in time for BBC series based on Cranford.
Two of the nineteenth-century novelist's shorter works, in which she analyzes a country town besieged, at a critical time, by forces beyond its ken, and presents an unfulfilled love affair which pits old values against new.
Good?

dow, Friday, 12 November 2021 02:00 (one year ago) link

I haven't read Cranford in a long time so my memories may be off. I remember it as a pretty good read; it's amusing in a quiet way and has a great first line, but it's not really a novel - more like a collection of sketches. I think of it as sort of the anti-Pickwick - like, it's also an episodic comic novel of a sort, but the world it describes is almost all-female and the humor is sharp but restrained. It's very different from the rest of Gaskell's books. Really all her books are quite different from each other. I think North and South and Mary Barton are both very good but flawed, and I'd happily recommend both of them; Wives and Daughters is on a whole other level though.

Lily Dale, Friday, 12 November 2021 02:28 (one year ago) link

Can't actually remember if I've read Cousin Phillis; I should dig it out and give it a try.

Lily Dale, Friday, 12 November 2021 02:29 (one year ago) link

Your description has reminded me of seeing some of the BBC Cranford on PBS---will see what all I can find by her in the family troves, thanks!

dow, Friday, 12 November 2021 02:42 (one year ago) link

' It had me from the first line and it did not let me go'

Same for me, this was a joy and I raced through it, as much a page turner as anything I've read. Daniel Deronda, though, takes me a lot of time.

abcfsk, Saturday, 13 November 2021 08:52 (one year ago) link

Because I finally read Middlemarch at the beginning of the year and am finally finishing Anna Karenina toward the end of it, I can't help but compare the two. I think I find the world of Middlemarch more precisely constructed and perfectly flowing.

That's interesting because the novel I kept comparing in my mind w/ MM as I read it was War and Peace (which I read about 10 years ago), whose characters (but especially Natasha) I felt were the most vividly human characters I'd come across in any book. I still think Natasha is incomparable: to me she just about jumped off the page; but ultimately I feel Middlemarch -and partly for the reason you point to- gives me more of what I look for, what I've always been looking for, in a novel.

Because in addition to the elaborately constructed and intertwined world of its people, they are all embedded in intertwined forcefields of feeling, aspiration, obligation, and self-deception.

And what other novelist gives you such exquisite psychological insight alongside such to-the-last-pence accounting of everyone's assets, debts, and income? I mean, Balzac deserves a shout, I guess, but as far as I've read him, he keeps his eyes on just one or two characters at a time in this respect.

There are places in the novel where it feels like it's being ghost-written by an Annales historian.

keen reverberations of twee (collardio gelatinous), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 03:18 (one year ago) link

I reread Daniel Deronda in 2019. You're tempting me to give this one my fourth go.

I love hearing that, Alfred.

I've not read any Eliot beyond this, and am wondering which to grab next. Open to any suggestions from you or others.

keen reverberations of twee (collardio gelatinous), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 03:25 (one year ago) link

The Mill on the Floss is essential, b/c of or despite the sentimental bits.

DD is in a league of its own. How it handles proto-Zionism and a proto-Jamesian plot is unique in English letters.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 03:31 (one year ago) link

Half of Daniel Deronda is great! How you feel about the other half depends on your tolerance for earnest Victorian philosemitism.

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 05:07 (one year ago) link

was reading the amazon reviews of middlemarch...

"I am sure that George Eliot did not use the expressions 'c programming language' and 'e book' when writing in the 1850s. But they occur often in my Kindle edition of Middlemarch."

sounds better imo.

koogs, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 09:33 (one year ago) link

Half of Daniel Deronda is great! How you feel about the other half depends on your tolerance for earnest Victorian philosemitism.

― Lily Dale, Tuesday, November 16, 2021

idk -- I can't separate them! They're symbiotic. Hitchens of all people wrote a long, carefully considered defense of the novel in the late 1980s. Not that intentions matter, but here's an Eliot letter excerpt:

As to the Jewish element in “Deronda,” I expected from the first to last in writing it, that it would create much stronger resistance and even repulsion than it has actually met with. But precisely because I felt that the usual attitude of Christians towards Jews is—I hardly know whether to say more impious or more stupid—in the light of their professed principles, I therefore felt urged to treat Jews with such sympathy and understanding as my nature and knowledge could attain to. Moreover, not only towards all oriental peoples with whom we English come in contact, a spirit of arrogance and contemptuous dictatorialness is observable which has become a national disgrace to us. There is nothing I should care more to do,if it were possible, than to rouse the imagination of men and women to a vision of human claims in those races of their fellow men who must differ from them in customs and beliefs.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 10:43 (one year ago) link

Alibris has great prices on the Oxford World Classics editions, new. Went ahead and ordered Mill on the Floss. (Plus a Middlemarch to give away).

keen reverberations of twee (collardio gelatinous), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 17:35 (one year ago) link

Hitchens of all people Whatever his own intentions in '80s, in late 60s or early 70s, according to Guardian obit:

It was while working for the Statesman that he experienced a "howling, lacerating moment in my life": the death of his adored mother in Athens, apparently in a suicide pact with her lover, a lapsed priest. Only years later did he learn what she never told him or perhaps anyone else: that she came from a family of east European Jews. Though his brother – who first discovered their mother's origins – said this made them only one-32nd Jewish, Hitchens declared himself a Jew according to the custom of matrilineal descent.
Also Martin Amis wrote about his chagrin when Hitchens, introduced by Amis to Bellow, proceeded to lecture the Laureate about Israel, right there in B.'s own kitchen, I think it was (fuck all these guys, literary merits aside).

dow, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 18:10 (one year ago) link

I'm tempted by Romola. The Oxford World Classics sits on my uni library shelf, not checked out since 1996.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 16 November 2021 18:12 (one year ago) link

xpost I enjoyed this account, though (kudos for introduction and now-it-can-be-told, MA).

dow, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 18:13 (one year ago) link

coincidentally was ravished by this over sept-oct and i thought of tolstoy too: simultaneous intense ambition on both micro and macro scales, characters as carefully sculpted miniature figures against sprawling domesday book social-novel ground. (the passage where it zooms out for the first time, suddenly going from 100 pages of austen-close examination of three or four characters to a bird's-eye description of the late industrial revolution and then back in to a dinner party's worth of characters it can follow in every direction, is a vertiginous thrill, rly took me by surprise.)

they are all embedded in intertwined forcefields of feeling, aspiration, obligation, and self-deception.

otm which means that 1) all the literal politics in it can be observed in such detail (they should teach the chapter about the meeting to decide on the new hospital's curate in any course they're teaching the prince in) but also 2) even all the romantic psychodrama becomes materialist, these very finely drawn personalities all being tugged+squashed+distorted by external forces, everyone a mass in a fluid. this is a theory of history! something else it has in common w war+peace.

funnier than tolstoy tho-- not just the narrator's clinical distantly compassionate irony (tho this is almost always funny)-- but some of the dialogue (fred/rosamond at breakfast above) verges on wodehouse. also lmao @ the story of lydgate's first love and the interruption of his galvanic experiments: read this out loud multiple times as a lil short story; in some ways it's a fractal of the whole book. he left his frogs and rabbits to some repose under their trying and mysterious dispensation of unexplained shocks.

difficult listening hour, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 22:52 (one year ago) link

Hidden actresses, however, are not so difficult to find as some other hidden facts,

difficult listening hour, Tuesday, 16 November 2021 22:58 (one year ago) link

i think i will start this tonight

certified juice therapist (harbl), Friday, 19 November 2021 00:47 (one year ago) link

I am sympathetic to Eliot's mission in that half of Daniel Deronda. But it is a biiit of a slog to read through unless you're precisely tuned to receive it. It's one of the most impressive feats I've seen attempted in a novel - marrying those two halves. But it takes me a lot of time to get through. Mill on the Floss was a very natural follow-up to Middlemarch for me. Adam Bede, apparently often read in schools, is a more 'ordinary' Victorian work and probable comes off as less exciting to most.

abcfsk, Friday, 19 November 2021 07:15 (one year ago) link

No love for Silas Marner here? Not as epic as Middlemarch or Deronda but iirc tender and moving without being overly sentimental. I couldn't finish Adam Bede, am yet to try Mill on the Floss.

namaste darkness my old friend (ledge), Friday, 19 November 2021 09:31 (one year ago) link

it's the only one i've read.

(also a school friend was an extra in the 1980s tv adaptation that was filmed partially in tewkesbury)

i vaguely remember it being faintly ridiculous

koogs, Friday, 19 November 2021 13:46 (one year ago) link

(the book, not the tvm. although ralph's beard was a bit lolsome)

koogs, Friday, 19 November 2021 13:47 (one year ago) link

Felix Holt is mostly a dud.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 19 November 2021 14:02 (one year ago) link

I dimly recall enjoying The Mill On The Floss, incl relationship of sister and brother, though could see why critics of Eliot's time (and prob since) had some trouble w the ending.

dow, Friday, 19 November 2021 18:14 (one year ago) link

I read it in grad school, didn't like it as much as what I read earlier and later

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 19 November 2021 18:16 (one year ago) link

Read it ca. 1990, so may revisit, also may check out the ones I was supposed to read in high school, Silas Marner and (?) Adam Bede. Need a break from recent lit.

dow, Friday, 19 November 2021 18:17 (one year ago) link

So what might be her best, other than Middlemarch?

dow, Friday, 19 November 2021 18:19 (one year ago) link

It's Mill on the Floss

abcfsk, Saturday, 20 November 2021 17:52 (one year ago) link

Daniel Deronda

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 20 November 2021 19:57 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

Some way into Mill on the Floss. She's very good with children and her ability to spin unique moments with her characters into wry but penetrating insights into the human condition is in full force - but aside from little Maggie I can't say I'm that interested in what's going to happen to any of the characters.

big online yam retailer (ledge), Monday, 13 December 2021 09:35 (eleven months ago) link

It's fairly reminiscent of Dickens, using children to tug on the heart strings, and occasional forays into romantic if not downright sentimental flights of fancy:

Snow lay on the croft and river-bank in undulations softer than the limbs of infancy; it lay with the neatliest finished border on every sloping roof, making the dark-red gables stand out with a new depth of colour; it weighed heavily on the laurels and fir-trees, till it fell from them with a shuddering sound; it clothed the rough turnip-field with whiteness, and made the sheep look like dark blotches; the gates were all blocked up with the sloping drifts, and here and there a disregarded four-footed beast stood as if petrified “in unrecumbent sadness”; there was no gleam, no shadow, for the heavens, too, were one still, pale cloud; no sound or motion in anything but the dark river that flowed and moaned like an unresting sorrow. But old Christmas smiled as he laid this cruel-seeming spell on the outdoor world, for he meant to light up home with new brightness, to deepen all the richness of indoor colour, and give a keener edge of delight to the warm fragrance of food; he meant to prepare a sweet imprisonment that would strengthen the primitive fellowship of kindred, and make the sunshine of familiar human faces as welcome as the hidden day-star. His kindness fell but hardly on the homeless,—fell but hardly on the homes where the hearth was not very warm, and where the food had little fragrance; where the human faces had had no sunshine in them, but rather the leaden, blank-eyed gaze of unexpectant want. But the fine old season meant well; and if he has not learned the secret how to bless men impartially, it is because his father Time, with ever-unrelenting purpose, still hides that secret in his own mighty, slow-beating heart.

big online yam retailer (ledge), Tuesday, 14 December 2021 15:42 (eleven months ago) link

The end of book two:

They had gone forth together into their life of sorrow, and they would never more see the sunshine undimmed by remembered cares. They had entered the thorny wilderness, and the golden gates of their childhood had forever closed behind them.

"Reader, the remaining two thirds of this book will be a stone cold bummer."

big online yam retailer (ledge), Wednesday, 15 December 2021 12:02 (eleven months ago) link

Ladislaw is the least believable character, but I like him because Dorothea likes him.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 15 December 2021 13:22 (eleven months ago) link

I like Henry James on Middlemarch, he starts off all blowhard ('one of the strongest and one of the weakest of English novels') but ultimately he's more sympathetic than that suggests (lol at him of all people marking a dozen passages 'obscure' though).

https://www.complete-review.com/quarterly/vol3/issue2/jameshmm.htm

(maybe thread should be renamed Middlemarch and other works by George Eliot aka Mary Ann/Marian Evans)

big online yam retailer (ledge), Wednesday, 15 December 2021 19:42 (eleven months ago) link

lol James was just expressing the anxiety of being influenced by a girl

horseshoe, Wednesday, 15 December 2021 23:44 (eleven months ago) link

four weeks pass...

bbc adaptation of middlemarch is on iPlayer for the next 16 days

koogs, Friday, 14 January 2022 18:26 (ten months ago) link


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