Jen's Reviews > Middlemarch: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds, Reviews and Criticism

Middlemarch by George Eliot
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's review
Jan 25, 10

Recommended to Jen by: Barbara Kingsolver, Meg
Read in January, 2010, read count: 1

Eliot could give depth of character to someone like Al Gore. I'm not sure how she would have gone about it, but I know that she could have done it. I'm convinced by this:
"Miss Brooke argued from words and dispositions not less unhesitatingly than other young ladies of her age. Signs are small measurable things, but interpretations are illimitable, and in girls of sweet, ardent nature, every sign is apt to conjure up wonder, hope, belief, vast as a sky, and coloured by a diffused thimbleful of matter in the shape of knowledge. They are not always too grossly deceived; for Sinbad himself may have fallen by good-luck on a true description, and wrong reasoning sometimes lands poor mortals in right conclusions; starting a long way off the true point, and proceeding by loops and zigzags, we now and then arrive just where we ought to be.

At least, the place where one ought to be in a reality of the time period of Middlemarch. Reading it today, I can't help but have a different ending reality for many of the characters.

To be honest, Eliot does this huge expose of Middlemarchers and then, at the end, she fits them into their futures with a bit of a kerplunk and a wry smile. And I'm a little miffed at her for leaving out Mr. Farebrother, who deserved better. To now, as a reader, have all of the information I feel I need to carry these characters with me (to know, for example, that Dorothea would hate the dog-purse toting section of today's society) and yet to have to acknowledge that their ending place in their literary dollhouse is wooden and fixed, it's pretty disappointing.

So why four stars? The writing is sublime. Even when puttering along at a snail's pace, there is a beauty to it. And, like I've written already, the masterful way she attends to every character, turning them this way and that, dressing them, coloring in their peculiarities, making sure that the reader know that she knows everything about everything there is to know about Middlemarch and its peoples.







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Reading Progress

07/01/2009 page 0
0.0% "Hope I get to this one."
07/21/2009 page 3
0.52% "Miss Brooke."
08/02/2009 page 11
1.9% ""Souls have complexions too: what will suit one will not suit another." How true."
08/04/2009 page 17
2.94% "Sometimes the best thing for punishment is to get exactly what you want. Is this going to happen to Dodo?"
08/05/2009 page 40
6.92% "The Dodo gets what she wants. Poor thing. I like Celia." 3 comments
08/05/2009 page 57
9.86% "Eliot moves the little peoples around so well. Even though I can still see the fingers I don't mind. She's funny."
08/05/2009 page 57
9.86% "Eliot moves her little peoples around so well. Even though I can still see her fingers I don't mind because she is so sarcastically fun."
08/08/2009 page 71
12.28% ""Correct English is the slang of prigs who write history and essays. And the strongest slang of all is the slang of poets.""
08/11/2009 page 107
18.51% "what petty little people- so real and slighted."
08/14/2009 page 122
21.11% "Lydgate and Rosamond."
11/03/2009 page 149
25.78% "Quaint. And I know many people who stretch words satirically- animals are diiiirty, anyone? :)" 2 comments
11/15/2009 page 176
30.45% "Fred's troubles."
11/29/2009 page 246
42.56% "Moving along. Still like Celia best."
12/01/2009 page 269
46.54% "Ha! My book is deceptively fat; there are only 578 real story pages, the rest is lagniappe."
12/07/2009 page 292
50.52% "Pushing past the pain and starting to like what is happening in the book"
12/08/2009 page 321
55.54% "Character is king"
12/13/2009 page 394
68.17% "Things are moving along now! Wow, I suspected that maybe...but then he died and the heir was someone else, so I forgot about it and....." 2 comments
12/13/2009 page 441
76.3% "I am more D than I'd like to admit-I wish I could be Mary or Celia-Mary is so much better and certain to get the best man"
12/15/2009 page 486
84.08% "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh9ZZg..."
12/21/2009 page 770
100% "The end. Mr. Farebrother, where'd you go?"

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Eric_W (new)

Eric_W Are you old enough to be referring to Miss Brooke(s)?


message 2: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen I don't know. I am certainly old enough to read her in Eliot.

Are you speaking of this? I do not have this sort of Miss Brooke yet. When I do it probably won't be in gold or silver. I will just have it tatooed.
http://www.medicharms.com/


message 3: by Eric_W (new)

Eric_W Jen wrote: "I don't know. I am certainly old enough to read her in Eliot.

Are you speaking of this? I do not have this sort of Miss Brooke yet. When I do it probably won't be in gold or silver. I will ju..."


[Laughing:] No, it was kind of a joke. I was referring to an old radio show called Our Miss Brookes. That's a grandpa in-joke.


message 4: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen Oh. Sorry, gramps:)


message 5: by Eric_W (new)

Eric_W Jen wrote: "Oh. Sorry, gramps:)"

HUGE grin


message 6: by Stephen (new) - added it

Stephen I'm scared of Middlemarch because it is bigger than Bleak House.


message 7: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen Don't be scared. Be glad it will keep you busy longer! Short stories are nice, but they go so fast they sometimes make me despair.


message 8: by Stephen (new) - added it

Stephen With such encouragement, who could falter in their resolve. I shall read Middlemarch! Amen.


Moira Russell Stephen wrote: "With such encouragement, who could falter in their resolve. I shall read Middlemarch! Amen."

Rock! Middlemarch and Bleak House are two of my favourite books.




message 10: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen I am still thinking about how I want to do a review of this one. I had three stars, then four stars, so there's an inner conflict for sure. Waiting to see what part of me wins out.


Moira Russell Jen wrote: "I am still thinking about how I want to do a review of this one. I had three stars, then four stars, so there's an inner conflict for sure. Waiting to see what part of me wins out. "

Did you review it? I am trying to catch up on GoodReads comments/posts....




message 12: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen I haven't had a chance to review it; I'm still conflicted about it. I think my personal tastes may have too much to do with what I would write/review at this point...this book still needs to settle a bit before I attempt to honestly review it. I was a bit disappointed with the ending, though the character expositions were amazing.




Moira Russell Jen wrote: "I haven't had a chance to review it; I'm still conflicted about it. I think my personal tastes may have too much to do with what I would write/review at this point...this book still needs to settl..."

Yeah, I think we are meant to be disappointed with the ending, or at least made melancholy by it. It's a very 'dying fall.' My husband avidly watched the BBC adaptation with me and was v disappointed Dorothea didn't wind up somehow with Lydgate. I think it's almost an anti-Romantic book, or at least partly an illustration of where Romantic illusions can lead you, in the cases of Rosamond, Lydgate, and Dorothea.




message 14: by Alan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alan she fits them into their futures with a bit of a kerplunk and a wry smile - excellent, and spot on..
in a way isn't it conforming to ideas of the novel and how it should end at the time?
..and short stories that go fast should also leave traces that linger for days/years if they're any good.


message 15: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen Well, I suppose so, except that her endings are a tad more realistic...maybe more than a tad...a smidge? What is the next imaginary measurement that I'm looking for here?




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