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Middlemarch

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  126,634 ratings  ·  6,799 reviews
George Eliot's most famous novel--considered by many the greatest in the language--subtly tests the high ideals and ambitions of its characters against the complex realities of English provincial life.

Middlemarch (1871-2), subtitled 'A Study of Provincial Life', depicts a Midlands community in the years immediately before the First Reform Bill of 1832. The novel's scope, however, g/>
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Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 708 pages
Published December 15th 1988 by Oxford University Press (first published 1871)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  126,634 ratings  ·  6,799 reviews


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Stephanie
Sep 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Siobhan
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone alive.
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.
Melanie
Jan 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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 pee
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Madeline
Dec 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-list, ugh
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 ha
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Ilse
Some discouragement, some faintness of heart at the new real future which replaces the imaginary, is not unusual, and we do not expect people to be deeply moved by what is not unusual. That element of tragedy which lies in the very fact of frequency, has not yet wrought itself into the coarse emotion of mankind; and perhaps our frames could hardly bear much of it. If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat ...more
Alex
This is the best book ever written, and why would you even think that? Who cares? It seems like a particularly male thing to do, this categorizing, this ranking. When George Eliot introduces Casaubon, a compulsive categorizer who has accomplished nothing of value, it feels like more than a character. It's a warning. She keeps quoting Eve from Paradise Lost, who was impressed by a man and look how that turned out. Eliot's talking about women following men and their dumb, arcane knowledge. Dorothea wan ...more
Luís C.
I am spoiled at the moment with my literary discoveries !! I once again enjoyed George Eliot's Middlemarch, a pavement of nearly 1000 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 Ter
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Idarah
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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
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Samadrita
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?'
And failure to act on your impulses will g
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Ahmad Sharabiani
853. Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life, George Eliot
Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life is a novel by the English author George Eliot, first published in eight installments (volumes) during 1871–72. The novel is set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch during 1829–32, 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, hy
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Lisa
I am leaving Middlemarch!

I can't believe it, after spending so much time with them, I am now done, moving on, moving out, like Lydgate and Bulstrode and Ladislaw and Dorothea. Middlemarch is a state of mind, and you can drop it or it can drop you.

In my case, I feel it dropped me, for I would have clung on to it even after turning that 918th page that was the final one! Does that make me more of a Bulstrode then, rather than a Dorothea? Well, obviously I am quite like the Middlemarch men in ge
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Traveller
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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 rende
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Manny
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.

Well, as I was saying to Meredith, I knew ahead of time that Twilight and Lolita would be there. 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
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Kalliope


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 fou
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Fionnuala
During the last couple of months I've met the entire cast of characters George Eliot created for her novels. They are a varied bunch but the one thing they have in common is that they are very memorable. I just have to close my eyes to picture each of them, or better still, hear them speak — the tenor of the voice Eliot gives each character goes a long way towards lodging them firmly in the mind. Which makes it very odd that the character I find the most memorable is the one who speaks the least ...more
Martine
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 1830s England. It takes 900 pages to draw its conclusions, but they're 900 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 described as a book ev ...more
Matthew
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matthew by: Tiffany
This was a big one! At times a slog, but not too bad in the end. I am very thankful for online summaries (Shmoop and Wikipedia) as they helped me gather and clarify my thoughts every few chapters or so.

While this book is large, I am guessing the fact that it is broken up into several smaller "books" means that at the time it was released it was delivered to the public in easier to swallow chunks. I did not look this up to confirm, but it would make sense. Instead of being 1000 pages
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Joey Woolfardis
Read as part of The Infinite Variety Reading Challenge, based on the BBC's Big Read Poll of 2003.

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.

When I first started reading it I was in a mental slump, which meant I was also in a reading slump. It is lengthy-at nigh on 900 pages-which contributed to the f
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Jan-Maat
Reform, relationships, & railways

Rebecca Mead in The Road to Middlemarch described her longing to grow up and be the kind of person who loved Middlemarch, but maybe one finds that one is the kind of person who would prefer to be sipping hot chocolate and flicking through Tintin books (view spoiler), there is one way to find out and that is to read, or in my case re-read, George Eliot's mighty novel.

Reading
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Aubrey
I have not taken a bribe yet. But there is a pale shade of bribery which is sometimes called prosperity.
The afterword to my edition compared one of its many cruxes, this one dealing with the slow grave robbing of sin, to the machinations of Macbeth. I will raise those stakes from plot device to the narratology of equivocation: Shakespeare, previously under investigation for suspected connection to the Gunpowder Plot, currently in the thrall of absolutist witch hunter King James, is made to write a play.
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Mala
Jun 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From this book, I learned that I'm not fit to hold a pencil.
Bradley
I shelved this as a romance on a whim, but if I'm being perfectly honest, this is just a work of brilliant realism. :)

George Eliot, nee Mary Anne Evans, was a fascinating woman who lived a life by her own ideals, living out of wedlock with a married man in Victoria's England, working for the Westminster Review and writing novels under a man's name. And for all that, she brings it out pretty swimmingly in what appears, at first glance, to be a heavily moral tale surrounding a very mor
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Perry
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: verlaten
Made it Past Page 700, But Cannot Read Even One More Page of Telling (Compared to Showing)

Reading this now seems akin to being impelled to eat an overcooked steak with a plastic fork and butter knife . After months of pain, I put my finger on one of the reasons why. It was published in 1871 before the literary realism of Flaubert's 1856 Madame Bovary gained a foothold in the lit world.

For example, something that especially drives me to the brink is Eliot's constant long-winded commentary on th
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Phil Williams
Oct 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The jackanapes and mongrels who need to learn that people aren't so bad as they seem.
When I finished reading this book, I wrote in the front of it that 'This is the most rewarding book you will ever read' and left it on a bookshelf in Fiji, dreaming that someone would go through the effort of reading the whole thing based only on my comment. I doubt anyone's picked it up since then; Fiji is a strange and frightening place.

I spake the truth, though. It strikes me that most of those who've read Middlemarch these days are hapless souls who resent it as the mammoth task
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Britta Böhler
I conquered the biggest tome for this year. And I loved it.
MihaElla
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first day after ‘Middlemarch’ has started rather airily and confusedly, despite the tender light and dewy freshness of morning. I felt a bit void as if something lost or missing, even a vague but still tangible impression that I don’t feel happy – well, in this transient present. I am saddened and disappointed that my companionship is now ended – for me it felt too soon, notwithstanding it’s 992 pages. It took me 7 weeks to complete it (so it shows the GR schedule) – not because of the conten ...more
Roy Lotz
Some gentlemen have made an amazing figure in literature by general discontent with the universe as a trap of dullness into which their great souls have fallen by mistake; but the sense of a stupendous self and an insignificant world may have its consolations.

I did not think a book like this was possible. A work of fiction with a thesis statement, a narrator who analyzes more often than describes, a morality play and an existential drama, and all this in the context of a realistic, historical novel—such a
...more
Rachel
May 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Middlemarch may look like 1000 pages of repressed English people who won't do exciting things, but in fact, it's a thrill ride (if the ride were called "Class Consciousness and How it Will Kill Your Love Life and Your Business"). This book has more action than all three Pirates movies. George Eliot was not messing around.
El
This is the book that I would answer if I were hypothetically asked what book could have single-handedly become the reason that my relationship would ever fall apart. More so than Infinite Jest or Proust, other examples of books that have consumed or are consuming my life in one way or another. I didn't realize I had a reading problem until I realized that my boyfriend was unpacking around me; literally unpacking boxes right from under my feet - while I sat there and turned the pages. Or when I real ...more
Junta
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
My experience in Victorian literature is rather limited, and as the mahogany curtain concealing Middlemarch opens to a tight-knit British town where men and women, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters receive and perceive each other, I was reminded of Pride and Prejudice, which I enjoyed a few years ago. However, with a comparable event to the denouement of the latter novel occurring after a mere 50 pages in this one, it was clear that the heroes and heroines of this book were going to pass through many heavens and ...more
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Mary Ann Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She was born in 1819 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 ...more
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.” 622 likes
“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the 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.” 462 likes
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