The terror of being judged sharpens the memory: it sends an inevitable glare over that long-unvisited past which has been habitually recalled only in general phrases. Even without memory, the life is bound into one by a zone of dependence in growth and decay; but intense memory forces a man to own his blameworthy past. With memory set smarting like a reopened wound, a man’s past is not simply a dead history, an outworn preparation of the present: it is not a repented error shaken loose from the life: it is a still quivering part of himself, bringing shudders and bitter flavors and the tinglings of a merited shame.
I know, right?
― JoeStork, Thursday, 15 February 2018 20:38 (three years ago) link
Finished a second reading, I don't remember it having such a <h>feelgood!!!</h> ending. And she saves the best gag for last, after telling us that the town thinks that Fred's book was written by Mary, but Mary's written by Fred:
In this way it was made clear that Middlemarch had never been deceived, and that there was no need to praise anybody for writing a book, since it was always done by somebody else.
Also at the end I was impressed with this bit, which is the most explicit criticism of 19th century society in the whole book:
Among the many remarks passed on her mistakes, it was never said in the neighbourhood of Middlemarch that such mistakes could not have happened if the society into which she was born had not smiled on propositions of marriage from a sickly man to a girl less than half his own age—on modes of education which make a woman's knowledge another name for motley ignorance—on rules of conduct which are in flat contradiction with its own loudly-asserted beliefs.
... and yet it doesn't appear in the edition in Project Gutenberg, and has scarely a few dozen hits in Google. What gives? I found it in a 'complete works' ebook, no publisher indicated.
― neith moon (ledge), Wednesday, 2 September 2020 11:04 (eight months ago) link
oops wrong brackets!
― neith moon (ledge), Wednesday, 2 September 2020 11:05 (eight months ago) link
Ok it's present in the manuscript and first edition, absent in the second. I wonder why she decided to soften the blow.
― neith moon (ledge), Wednesday, 2 September 2020 11:16 (eight months 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 (eight months 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 (eight months 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 (eight months ago) link
― Canon in Deez (silby), Friday, 2 April 2021 16:18 (one month 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.
"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 month ago) link
Just finished this last night.
― Chris L, Friday, 2 April 2021 17:29 (one month ago) link
Wow me too! Nice.
― Canon in Deez (silby), Friday, 2 April 2021 17:33 (one month ago) link
― horseshoe, Friday, 2 April 2021 18:41 (one month ago) link