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Taking place in the years leading up to the First Reform Bill of 1832, 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 vein.

904 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1872

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About the author

George Eliot

2,330 books3,889 followers
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 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 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 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 penname "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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_E...






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Displaying 1 - 30 of 10,077 reviews
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews48.2k followers
March 29, 2022

this book is a calm cool and collected 880 pages long, so elle and i will be tackling three chapters a day...every day for this whole month.

join us as we melt our minds. i love a project!

immediately i am having fun. approx 30 pages per day for 31 days currently seems like the perfect way to read a book, i am walking on sunshine, i am breathing rainbows or whatever.
this is beautifully written and a whole blast. i'm gonna live forever.

somehow i have been cursed with reading not one, but two books about the devil's work on earth (beautiful twenty-something women marrying random dudes in their 40s) at the same time.
gotta give it up, though: i'm not even at the 10% mark and i'm invested enough to do all but scream NOOOO at the pages.

listen to this roast: "He has got no good red blood in his body [...] Somebody put a drop under a magnifying-glass, and it was all semicolons and parentheses."
insanely good.
i like this will ladislaw character!

there's like a full page of dialogue in this about how dumb men look playing the flute and in other words i think i am in love with this book.

i could read about rosy for 100 years. i could read about dodo for 50 years. i could read about will for 25 years. i am reaching the end of my patience with mr. old man husband and dr. boring guy.

for the first time thus far, i almost missed a day.
you may be tempted to say "emma, it hasn't even been a week, how are you already almost missing days" and to that i would respond a) i'm doing a WHOLE OTHER PROJECT right now and b) i'm lazy.
technically it's 1:19 a.m. and thereby i did miss a day, but i ascribe to my own calendar, which is whenever i'm awake it's one day and then when i go to bed and wake up it becomes the next.
this was very trying (three in a row of the more town politics-y chapters) but i did it in spite of dawning sleepiness.

that sounds like a truly unlistenable indie band.
anyway, after all those chapters about chaplaincies and town doctors, it's a treat beyond words to read about these two again. speaking of treat beyond words, i just remembered i have Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate-Covered Cherries™️...hang on, middlemarch. let me get my priorities in order.
oh man i'm having so much fun. 1,000 pages of dodo and ladislaw dialogue, please and thanks.

i've straight up been looking forward to this since i put it down yesterday. i don't want to jinx anything buuuuut...if this level of fun keeps up we may just have a 5 star on our hands.
we have now entered Book 3, which has the cheery and promising title "Waiting for Death." i'm in heaven.

27 is my favorite number. just a fun fact.
this fred vincy character sure is a ding-dong, and a bit of a jerkoff to boot.
chapter 26 uses the phrase "to be caught tripping," a moment which i imagine is what people mean when they say a timeless classic.

DAY 10: CHAPTERS 28-30
wow. can you believe it! almost a third done already.
time flies when you're assigning books to yourself like homework.
relatedly: best homework ever. this rules.

DAY 11: CHAPTERS 31-33
anyone else as stunned as i am that i haven't yet missed a day?
if you aren't you should be. do not believe in me.
a cliffhanger!!!!!!!!

DAY 12: CHAPTERS 34-36
we are now entering book 4: three love problems.
my guesses for the three titular issues in question:
1) Dodo's Old Man Husband Is The Worst And His Young Artist Cousin Rules
2) Mary Garth Deserves Better Than Fred Vincy But Will Probably End Up With Him
3) Somehow Middlemarch's Hottest Single Is Engaged To Some Poor Guy. No Thanks, As A Reader
next book is called "THE DEAD HAND," very ominously, and we're getting some foreshadowing as to what that means here on the day of featherstone's funeral.
technically that's a spoiler but i don't think "oldest character dying in a sprawling 1000 page novel" is much of a twist.
already today is so long and i'm not even halfway through the first of the three chapters but!!! "There would be a satisfaction in being buried by Mr. Cadwallader, whose very name offered a fine opportunity for pronouncing wrongly if you liked."
this is so funny. and i haven't even mentioned yet that there's an oft-referenced place called Freshitt.
okay and: “I dare say Dodo likes it: she is fond of melancholy things and ugly people.” me using dating apps.

DAY 13: CHAPTERS 37-39
okay. i am suddenly multiple days behind.
in my defense: on sunday i took medical leave of reading (so scared of slumping again) and yesterday i was equal parts busy and anxious, and thereby effectively illiterate.
but the good news is: today is a 9 chapter day!!! (it is really a reflection of how much fun i'm having that this is good news, instead of the sickening impact of procrastination.)
"Each looked at the other as if they had been two flowers which had opened then and there." golly.
this is a very witty and smart and beautifully written book, and the nicest thing i can say about it is that there are approx 100,000 characters and i'm not having that much trouble remembering them. huge praise.

DAY 14: CHAPTERS 40-42
haha. chapter xl.
“The lad is of age and must get his bread.” was this published YESTERDAY? i'm losing my damn mind
current character ranking:
1) dodo
2) will
3) rosamond
4) mary
5) fred
6) celia
any of these guys as the focus: good with me. when we open up a chapter and i see the dreaded word "lydgate"...a different story!

DAY 15: CHAPTERS 43-45
as very witty people in the comments pointed out: IT'S THE MIDDLE OF MIDDLEMARCH MARCH. the ides, even.
it is also now BOOK V: THE DEAD HAND, a badass title that only grows more badass because of the aforementioned foreshadowing.
nothing is more badass than foreshadowing.
casaubon and lydgate can be exiled from this book, as far as i'm concerned, for their respective crimes of being a butthole and being boring.

DAY 16: CHAPTERS 46-48
it's the best time of the day!
will ladislaw, a pro-union pro-democracy king. also the first recorded instance of a floor person.
this is also such a perfect example of the Every Good Heterosexual Romance Involves The Man Liking The Woman Way More. i'm once again having a blast.

DAY 17: CHAPTERS 49-51
i love this book so much (reading it earlier in the day than usual for i can't wait reasons) but it is SO FRUSTRATING SOMETIMES. when a once-major character has a baby I DON'T WANT TO FIND OUT THROUGH A PASSING LINE OF DIALOGUE.
jeez. tangled webs here in middlemarch.

DAY 18: CHAPTERS 52-54
ugh! i like the vicar better for mary than dumb old fred vincy. sure, he's 5th in my character rankings, but i rank, like, the mad hatter pretty highly too. doesn't mean i'd wanna marry the guy.
was just thinking "ah, don't know if i have a long bulstrode section in me..." and then after two paragraphs this book straight up says "enough." i'm in love
aaaaand onto book 6: THE WIDOW AND THE WIFE. ok.
three months have suddenly just passed without will and dodo even glimpsing each other, meanwhile if i go like 10 days without seeing someone i'm dating i assume we're ghosting each other.
how times have changed.
goddamn i am yearning! this book is so f*ckin' good.

DAY 19: CHAPTERS 55-57
okay. so i missed a day. in my defense i was drunk for like 90% of the friday to saturday block of this week, for reasons of "It Was 70 Degrees And St Patrick's Day Weekend And I Am Young And Hot."
aaaand i missed another day. i read one chapter but i was very hungover and had also drunkenly bought basketball tickets so time was limited.
8 chapter day it is!!!
some fun mary and fred action happening. maybe i will have time to turn Team Fred before the end of this.

DAY 20: CHAPTERS 58-60
immediately this set started out by saying lydgate hates his cousin because his haircut is lame. maybe i'll do a 180 on lydgate, too, because that f*ckin rules.
oh my god and it says the same cousin isn't actually hot but girls think he is because of his mustache. i love that this million year old book has the same opinions as the average tiktoker.
oh my god and: “If he got his head broken, I might look at it with interest, not before.” PLEASE
this project is really testing my roman numeral reading ability.

DAY 21: CHAPTERS 61-63
oh man. drama alert.
oh god. chapter 61: drama. chapter 62: yearning. onto BOOK 7: TWO TEMPTATIONS.
ugh. i was trying so hard to like lydgate but him being an asshole immediately on the heels of a perfect dodo / will chapter is too much to bear.

DAY 22: CHAPTERS 64-66
read over 100 pages of this yesterday. now i feel invincible going in for what will surely be, like, 22.
rosamond is a complete and utter b*tch and i love it.

DAY 23: CHAPTERS 67-69
this was like...all bulstrode. rude.

DAY 24: CHAPTERS 70-72
ugh. more bulstrode. at least he's doing crimes.
and i guess we have to kill the time somehow until will and dodo can see each other again.
onto book eight: SUNSET AND SUNRISE.
it's giving ethan hawke.
“And, of course, men know best about everything, except what women know better.” so true bestie

DAY 25: CHAPTERS 73-75
oh thank god, will ladislaw is coming back. i can't deal with all this bulstrode and lydgate action, even if i do keep getting the opportunity to see rosy be an absolutely divine asshole because of it.

DAY 26: CHAPTERS 76-78
this set of chapters is so dramatic that i just explained the entire plot of this 900 page book to my sister just to try to indicate the massive yearning angsty payoff of dodo and will seeing each other again under unintended circumstances.
i am having so much fun it's hard to stop!!!

DAY 27: CHAPTERS 79-81

DAY 28: CHAPTERS 82-84
honestly in my heart of hearts i find this kinda anticlimactic but still.
actually i take it back. it's nice just the way it is.

DAY 29: CHAPTERS 85-87
folks, we are nearing the end and i have to say...I DON'T WANNA.
don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened, or whatever, i guess, ugh.
also now realizing it's been about a hundred years since we last heard from fred and mary. we're down to the last seconds, george eliot!
thereeee they are.
all the star crossed dodo-and-will stuff is lovely, but this is so good too: "I don’t think either of us could spare the other, or like any one else better, however much we might admire them. It would make too great a difference to us—like seeing all the old places altered, and changing the name for everything."
and it's over. i didn't know it was finishing today!!! i'm going to cry.

this is a funny, wry, smart, witty, political, historically significant, educating, romantic, beautifully written, basically perfect book.
it is worth each and every one of its 880 pages and i would have kept reading far more!
rating: 5

tbr review

am very into pretending i want to read super-long books lately
Profile Image for Stephanie.
141 reviews72 followers
November 8, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Siobhan.
Author 6 books75 followers
December 4, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Melanie.
Author 6 books1,202 followers
May 4, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Madeline.
775 reviews47k followers
December 27, 2009
Page 97:

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. I...I 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:

Page 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 it more than I did.

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.
Profile Image for Ilse.
456 reviews2,944 followers
July 15, 2018
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, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.

When Alexandra suggested to participate in this year’s alphabetical challenge of reading women, I admit the prospect of finally reading Middlemarch for the ‘E’ was the decisive element for me to embark on the journey –and I had been keeping the novel aside as a precious reward, to be touched if and only if I would manage to finish a demanding work project in time. When that blissful moment came, I couldn’t have dreamt of a more exquisite treat than reading this masterpiece, of which I enjoyed every minute. Although Virginia Woolf called it ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’ reading this novel made me feel sixteen again, catapulting me back into memories of spending hours of reading delight during school holidays in the small kitchen above the grocery store where my mother worked, only having to interrupt reading to wash the dishes, then plunging again into some fat Russian 19th century novel, greedily gobbling up the sentences, floating on cloud nine. Isn’t it odd how memory singles out and connects to some of our experiences as the most delightful ones of our lives, of which we were barely aware when we were living them? Needless to say books which are that overwhelming are rare, and this novel is such one, one that swallowed me whole, only desiring to be in the book, curling up with the characters – I revelled in Eliot’s prowess in bringing to life her wondrous characters and particularly in the strength of her women (most of the men in the novel seem no match for the women, at certain moments some sound like a tenor in an opera who’s faint voice renders his nonetheless beautiful lines and alleged heroism at times perhaps somewhat implausible but all the more human).


As so much has been written on this magnum opus (I so far have only skimmed through a few of the magnificent hymns readers here have written to this so well-loved book and hope to read them more thoroughly now having finished the novel) and the issues worth analysing seem boundless – I feel it could easily feed my reading group’s discussions for a year - reading the novel a first time I soon sensed it out of my league to consider writing anything about it and so surrendered to reading instinctively, plunging in naked and unarmed, floating smoothly on Eliot’s fabulous sentences, the gentle waves of her wisdom. If I would focus on one theme for further exploring in a second read it would be marriage as seen by Eliot, to find out if and in which way her views concurred with or differed from the conventional ones in her time, and what her views on relationships tell us today.


Young love-making—that gossamer web! Subtle interlacings are swung— are scarcely perceptible: momentary touches of fingertips, meetings of rays from blue and dark orbs, unfinished phrases, lightest changes of cheek and lip, faintest tremors. The web itself is made of spontaneous beliefs and indefinable joys, yearnings of one life towards another, visions of completeness, indefinite trust. And Lydgate fell to spinning that web from his inward self with wonderful rapidity. As for Rosamond, she was in the water-lily’s expanding wonderment at its own fuller life, and she too was spinning industriously at the mutual web.

One of the themes which propulses the finely spun narratives and intrigues (Middlemarch has been compared to an intricate emotional spider web, the omniscient authorial voice repeatedly using the web metaphor, considering the recounting of the tale a task of ‘unraveling certain human lots and seeing how they were woven and interwoven’) is the tension between reconciling the vows and demands of marriage and one’s personal vocation in life – a tension mostly conveyed by unfurling and paralleling the vicissitudes of two characters who precipitate themselves headlong into wedlock, a state on which they both harbour illusions which seem to echo each other and which will turn out at odds with their highly idealistic vocations and ambitions in life. We find the 19 year old Dorothea Brooke passionately wanting to devote herself to an scholarly clergyman, many years her senior, Edward Causabon, seeking wisdom and enlightenment herself - while the young doctor Tertius Lydgate dreams of a life of science, to be venerated and supported in this dream by the dedicated wife he sees in the mayor’s daughter, Rosamond Vincy (’his old dreamland, in which Rosamond Vincy appeared to be that perfect piece of womanhood who would reverence her husband’s mind after the fashion of an accomplished mermaid, using her comb and looking-glass and singing her song for the relaxation of his adored wisdom alone’).

Both will bump into bitter reality (as in a sense for both marriage serves as a means to an end, the only possible outcome might have been disillusion on the nature of marriage). Dorothea finds her assistance unwelcome to her husband, while Tertius learns a ravishing appearance can hide a disgraceful (and to this reader appalling) selfishness. Their misfit marriages will eventually be counterpoised by a third, wonderfully balanced relationship, one of strong bonding based on ratio as well as emotions, a couple building a future on what could be seen as fundamental resemblances and complementary differences – complementarity far more subtle painted by Eliot than in a simple traditional division of the gender roles. Here is a relationship of mutual support and understanding for which both Dorothea and Tertius - good-natured, but dreamers - longed for in vain – however the initial pangs of disenchantment for both will have quite different consequences. Eliot’s presentation of what seems ideal marriage as a union of free-spirited individuals, united by true companionship as loving comrades, struck me as rather progressive or modern for her times (but I could be wrong in that assessment) as well as touchingly relatable.


Reading Middlemarch to me not felt as escapism. As Julian Barnes wrote in his essay A Life with BooksLife and reading are not separate activities, When you read a great book, you don't escape from life, you plunge deeper into it. There may be a superficial escape – into different countries, mores, speech patterns – but what you are essentially doing is furthering your understanding of life's subtleties, paradoxes, joys, pains and truths. Reading and life are not separate but symbiotic’. His words ring quintessentially true with regard to Middlemarch – with its gorgeous, gossamer prose, the plethora of fascinating characters, the manifold references to art, the perceptive dictums wearing an aphoristic suit showing a tremendous insight into the human psyche, its subtly humorous asides, its wisdom and sympathy for humankind, this brilliant novel might simply be a reader’s dream, a way of experiencing the harmony of spheres. Following the thread to light and life Eliot is weaving, reminded me that life in all its depth at times can be pure bliss.
Profile Image for Alex.
1,418 reviews4,381 followers
February 1, 2022
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 wants to be part of something grand, and the very idea is patriarchal. She ends up lost in a tomb. This is Casaubon, the archetypal mansplainer: so many facts, so little truth.

So she leads with this grand male ambition, The Key To All Mythologies, but she's heading somewhere else. Here's the quote that she's spending 800 pages aiming 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.

And you're like oh, fuck yeah, right? Unhistoric acts are my whole jam! This is the truth: most of us will be regular. We can hope to find love, or at least acceptance. We hope that the cumulative effect of very many of us trying to do more or less the right thing will be that the world is more or less nice. A few of us will create great art, or live great lives. Very many of us will wish we had. George Eliot thinks we should settle down.

People are surprised when they find out that I read mostly classics. "What for?" they ask. It sounds boring. "What are you getting out of this?" At its worst, it's some kind of Casaubonesque desire to know everything about something. Better, I hope there's some kind of cumulative effect of empathy and perspective. But best of all: this here, Middlemarch, is the only book I've ever read that changed the way I look at my entire life. It teaches me to settle down. I'm in the process of living faithfully a hidden life here. So perhaps are you. Coming to terms with that isn't just a lesson, it's the lesson, right? It's the whole game. It's either this or buy a convertible and re-pierce my ear. I read classics in hopes of finding something this good again.

Okay so the whole game is in here, and the funny thing about this being the best book ever is that for the best book ever it is fucking boring. There's this whole part, like the middle third or so, that's frankly deadly. It happens about a hundred pages in; you've been having a grand old time with Dorothea and her shitty old husband who can't even fuck right, and all of a sudden Eliot starts introducing new people. It's not that they're not great - well, some of them aren't, I'm sorry but Mary and Fred are boring. But Rosamond! She's so awful! She's terrific and she very nearly runs off with the book. Casaubon is a bad man; Rosamond is a bad woman, and her damage to Lydgate is much worse.

Rosamond is what Eliot started with, in fact; that was supposed to be the book. She was to be a response to the realist landmark Madame Bovary. Eliot decided she needed a counterweight in Dorothea, and then I don't know what all else happened. (That climactic confrontation between Dorothea and Rosamond, for one thing - what a scene, right? Eliot is one of the most compassionate writers, and here's where she puts her money down.) There's this complicated structure she builds - pretty Ladislaw, the banker Bulstrode, an old scandal, some surprisingly Victorian plot twists, given that Middlemarch is itself a realist landmark. Rather more talk about doctors than you needed. A lot of this stuff is boring.

There's a famous quote from Virginia Woolf, who called Middlemarch "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people." She called it that despite "all its imperfections," by the way, she thought it was boring too. But that's a grown-up message, that bit about the tombs. So here we are, right? Grown-ups, living faithfully our hidden lives, hoping to find peace with our unremarkableness. Here's the peace. You gotta make it through a boring part in the middle, but at the end you'll look back and find it was the best thing ever.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,194 reviews9,455 followers
January 16, 2021
I put off reading this for actual decades : 900 crammed pages about the well-to-do folk of an ordinary small English country town called Middlemarch. I thought it might be tweedy. Jane Austen for those who wouldn't be caught dead reading P&P. . But also I suspected it would be a masterpiece. But a very verbose one. And yes, I was right. It is, and it is. And much of this tangled story is sad – there are two terrible marriages brilliantly described and there is a great scandal. But there’s an awful lot else. Lots.


She has a grand style but she’s also funny :

He did not usually find it easy to give his reasons : it seemed to him strange that people should not know them without being told, since he only felt what was reasonable

Brooke is a very good fellow, but pulpy; he will run into any mould, but he won’t keep shape.

When you get me a good man made out of arguments, I will get you a good dinner with reading you the cookery-book.

When a youthful nobleman steals jewellery we call the act kleptomania, speak of it with a philosophical smile, and never think of his being sent to the house of correction as if he were a ragged boy who had stolen turnips.

And she’s able to throw out one-liners like

Scepticism can never thoroughly be applied or else life would come to a standstill

Oh and she has a lovely vocabulary for those who enjoy dictionary diving – piluous, worreting, vinous and waternixie for instance.


One thing that really aggravates me about every single critic who ever wrote about George Eliot is that they never fail to describe her as ugly, as in, REALLY ugly. Horsefaced. Henry James, who you might have thought was the Vesuvius of equivocation, said she was “magnificently ugly, deliciously hideous.” And came up with h the word “equine” which means “like a horse”. I don’t think anyone else gets this treatment. Look in the mirror, Henry. No oil painting yourself.


Like many Victorian authors, she comments on her own characters.

Pardon these details for once – you would have learned to love them if you had known Caleb Garth

She calls another character “morally lovable”, and about somebody else she says “For my part I am very sorry for him”. And here she bursts into irritation with herself

One morning, some weeks after her arrival at Lowick, Dorothea—but why always Dorothea? Was her point of view the only possible one with regard to this marriage?


But I think the heart and soul of Middlemarch is the intimate and entirely convincing psychological portraits of these characters – many of which you might have met before in other novels– and this just shows that in the hands of a great novelist fairly stock characters (the frustrated intellectual, the hot-headed idealist, the wily banker, the comical clergyman, the scurrilous blackmailer) and pretty familiar plots (will this one marry that one? Will that one get cheated out of their inheritance? Will this one’s shameful past be exposed?) everything comes back to tremendous life. George Eliot kisses the sleeping beauty of the Victorian novel and all those grey shades take on deep and subtle colours and all the people start moving again and nodding and smiling and weeping.
Here she is on one young lady’s vision of marriage :

In Rosamond’s romance it was not necessary to imagine much about the inward life of the hero, or of his serious business in the world: of course, he had a profession and was clever, as well as sufficiently handsome; but the piquant fact about Lydgate was his good birth, which distinguished him from all Middlemarch admirers, and presented marriage as a prospect of rising in rank and getting a little nearer to that celestial condition on earth in which she would have nothing to do with vulgar people

And many pages later :

The Lydgate with whom she had been in love had been a group of airy conditions for her, most of which had disappeared, while their place had been taken by every-day details which must be lived through slowly from hour to hour, not floated through with a rapid selection of favorable aspects.


You can see she will suddenly move up a gear into a gear not known by average novelists when describing a character or situation, and a whole page becomes an effortless fusion of psychology and cosmology, she can dizzle your brain, make you high with her confident whole grasp of human intention and desire, I’d love to quote some of these passages but they are long. Here's a famous bit :

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, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.


No you don’t. I very nearly didn’t! Patience is required, especially between pages 200 and 400. I thought there weren’t enough of things actually happening. More people should have died or had bizarre farming accidents. My Penguin edition is 900 pages, I see some editions are 600-700, the print must be microscopic. So this is BIG. You have been warned.


If you’re a lovely young woman don’t marry a guy 25 years older than you who seems to be an impressive intellectual but who only wants to make lists.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
September 6, 2021
(Book 853 from 1001 books) - 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, hypocrisy, political reform, and education.

میدل مارچ - جورج الیوت (دنیای نو) ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز د��م ماه نوامبر سال 1992میلادی

عنوان: میدل مارچ در دو جلد؛ نویسنده: جورج الیوت؛ مترجم: مینا سرابی، تهران، نشر دنیای نو، 1369؛ در دو جلد؛ جلد یک در 626ص؛ جلد دو در601ص شابک دوره دو جلدی 9646564178؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، بدیهه، چاپ سوم 1379؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، نشر دنیای نو؛ چاپ چهارم 1383؛ چاپ پنجم 1387؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 19م

میدل مارچ دو جلد در 1229صفحه است، و در هشت کتاب، که در هر مجلد چهار کتاب آرمیده است، کتاب نخست «دوشیزه بروک»؛ کتاب دوم «پیر و جوان»؛ کتاب سوم« در انتظار مرگ»؛ کتاب چهارم «سه مسئله عشق»؛ کتاب پنجم «نفوذ مرده»؛ کتاب ششم «همسر و بیوه زن»؛ کتاب هفتم «دو وسوسه»؛ کتاب هشتم «طلوع و غروب»؛ نام دارند؛

جورج الیوت به‌ سبب مهارت و ژرف ‌بینی خویش در بازنمایی انگیزه ‌ها، رتبه ی یگانه ای در بین نویسندگان بزرگوار «بریتانیا» در سده ی نوزدهم میلادی، که از «جین آستین» و «خواهران برونته» آغاز می‌شود، و به «چارلز دیکنز» و «تاماس هاردی» می‌رسند، دارند، بسیاری از نقادان مدرن ایشان را بزرگوار‌ترین رمان‌نویس «انگلیسی» سده ی نوزدهم میلادی می‌دانند؛ شخصیت‌های رمان «میدل مارچ» به‌ رغم سادگی ظاهریشان، زندگی درونی بغرنجی دارند؛ برخی بر معیارهایی پای می‌فشارند، تا همگان آن‌ها را تحسین ‌کنند، دیگرانی نیز بر روابط متکی هستند تا همگان آن‌ها را تشویق کنند؛ «میدل مارچ» داستان یک شهر با همه‌ ی ابعاد و مناسباتش است

نقل از متن: (بخش اول: دوشیزه «بروک»؛ فصل یک؛ چون زنم، و عاجز از کارِ تمام، پیوسته میرسم به چیزی ناتمام؛ دوشیزه «بروک» زیبایی اش از نوعی بود که با لباس فقیرانه، انگار جلوه ای افزونتر مییافت؛ دستانش و مچ دستهایش چنان خوش ترکیب بودند، که میتوانست آستینهایی بی پیرایه به دست کند، کم و بیش شبیه آستینهای مریم مقدس، به همان شکل، که نقاشان «ایتالیا» تصور میکردند، و نیمرخ و سکنات و حرکاتش نیز، گویی با جامه های ساده اش متانتی بیشتر مییافت، که در کنار جامه های رایج محل، به او جاذبه ای میبخشید شبیه جاذبه ی نقل قول درخشانی از «انجیل»، یا یکی از شاعران پیش کسوت ما، در میانه ی نوشتارهای روزنامه های روز؛ همه میگفتند بسیار با استعداد است، اما اضافه میکردند که خواهرش «سِلیا» عاقلتر است؛ با اینحال، «سِلیا» چندان آراسته تر از خواهرش؛ لباس نمیپوشید، و فقط ناظر دقیق، تشخیص میداد که لباسش، با خواهرش فرق دارد، و رگه ی ملایمی، از ناز و عشوه، در سر و وضعش هست؛ لباس پوشیدن ساده ی دوشیزه «بروک»، تابع اقتضائاتی بود، که عمدتا در مورد خواهرش نیز صدق میکرد؛ تشخص زنانه، یکی از آن اقتضائات بود، زیرا اصل و نسب خانوادگی «بروک» که البته اشرافی خالص نبود، مسلما « خوب » بود؛ اگر یکی دو نسل عقبتر میرفتید، هیچ جد و سلفی پیدا نمیکردید که کارش گز کردن، یا بسته بندی کردن بوده باشد؛ بله، پایینتر از دریاسالار، یا کشیش، در میان آنها پیدا نمیشد؛ حتی یکی از این اسلاف عالیجناب پیرایشگری بود، که در سپاه «کراموِل» خدمت میکرد، اما بعد کوتاه آمد، و توانست از مخمصه های سیاسی، جان سالم به در ببرد، و صاحب ملک خانوادگی آبرومندانه ای بشود؛ چنین زنان جوان با اصل و نسبی، که در خانه روستایی آرامی زندگی میکردند، و در کلیسایی روستایی حضور مییافتند، که بزرگتر از سالن پذیرایی نبود، طبیعتا زینت و زیور را خواسته دختر یک دوره گرد تلقی میکردند؛ وانگهی، قناعت خاصی داشتند، که به تربیت خانوادگیشان برمیگشت، و این قناعت در آن روزگار در لباس رخ مینمود، زیرا موقعی که لازم میشد به مخارجی بیفزایند، تا منزلت خانوادگی را بیشتر حفظ کنند، اول از همه، از مخارج لباس میزدند؛ برای پوشیدن لباس ساده، چنین دلایلی کفایت میکرد، حتی اگر پای احساسات مذهبی به میان نمیآمد، اما در مورد دوشیزه «بروک»، احساسات مذهبی به تنهایی تعیین کننده بود؛ «سِلیا» هم تا حدودی با احساسات خواهرش موافقت نشان میداد، منتها به این احساسات، آن عقل سلیمی را میافزود، که با آن میشد تعلیمات پایه ای را، فارغ از هیجانهای عجیب وغریب پذیرفت؛ «داروتیا» بسیاری از مطالب تاملات «پاسکال» و نوشته های «جریمی تیلر» را از بر بود، و به نظرش سرگذشت بشر اگر در پرتو مسیحیت ملاحظه میشد، همه ی اشتغالات مربوط به سر و وضع زنان، به اشتغالات مخصوص دارالمجانین شباهت مییافت؛ او نمیتوانست دغدغه های زندگی روحی و تبعات ابدی آن را، با جاذبه هایی آشتی بدهد، که به تزیینات تور و ابریشم، و برجستگی های مصنوعی پارچه، و پرده مربوط میشد؛ ذهنش در عالم نظر سیر میکرد، و جانش در پی مفهوم والایی از جهان بود، که مستقیما ناحیه ی «تیپتن» و نحوه رفتار خود او را، در این ناحیه نیز در بر بگیرد؛ دوستدار شور و عظمت بود، و آماده ی به آغوش کشیدن هر چیزی که، به نظرش شور و عظمت میداشت؛ حتی طالب عذاب بود، شکست، ناکامی و سپس شهادت، در جایی که خود نمیخواست؛ مسلما حضور چنین عناصری در وجود دختر دم بخت، مخلّ بختش میشد، و نمیگذاشت که آداب ورسوم، زیبایی چهره، غرور و احساساتِ صرفا خاضعانه بختش را، رقم بزند؛ البته او که خواهر بزرگتر بود، هنوز بیست سالش نشده بود، ضمن اینکه هردو خواهر از حدود دوازده سالگی، که پدر و مادر را از دست داده بودند، تحت تعلیم قرار گرفته بودند، منتها طبق برنامه ای که هم محدود و بسته بود، و هم بی در �� پیکر، ابتدا در خانواده ای «انگلیسی» و بعد در خانواده ای «سوئیسی» در «لوزان»، چون عموی مجردی، که قیم شان بود، میخواست مضرات یتیم بودن آنها را به این طریق جبران کند

هنوز یک سال نمیشد که آمده بودند در «تیپتن گرِینج» زندگی میکردند، با همان عمو، که دیگر شصت سالش بود، و خلق وخوی ملایم داشت، و عقاید متنوع و آراء ناپایدار.؛ در سالهایی که جوانتر بود، زیاد سفر کرده بود، و در این نقطه از مملکت میگفتند ذهنش هوایی شده است؛ پیش بینی کردن استنباطهای آقای «بروک» به اندازه ی پیش بینی کردن وضع هوا دشوار بود؛ فقط این نکته را میشد با اطمینان گفت، که همیشه نیت خیر داشت، و نیتهای خیرش را نیز، با هزینه هرچه کمتر عملی میکرد؛ آخر، ذهنهای بی ثبات نیز، هسته های سختی از عادت را، در خود جای میدهند. دیده شده اند کسانی که، در همه ی علائق خود، سهل گیرند، غیر از داشتن انفیه دانی که به شدت از آن مراقبت میکنند، و با سوءظن و خسّت برای خودشان نگه میدارند)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 01/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 14/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Luís.
1,858 reviews512 followers
October 18, 2022
I am spoiling 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 on 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 Tertius Lydgate, an ambitious but touching doctor, with Rosamond Vincy, a vulgar young woman wishing to arouse the admiration of all her neighbours; finally, the couple Fred Vincy / Mary Garth, whom I most appreciated.
Besides, the characters are all more interesting than the others, offering a variety of roles among the individuals that the reader has the chance to meet. I preferred the style of Dorothea Brooke, endearing through his choices, the awkward moments of his life, his generosity to doctor Lydgate, for example, and finally, access to happiness at the end of the novel. I also liked all the male characters, including M. Lydgate, Will Ladislaw and Fred Vincy.
Finally, George Eliot depicts the society of his time down to the smallest detail, allowing us to participate in animated discussions or participate in scandals upsetting the village and its surroundings.
So I loved this excellent novel by George Eliot, one of the greatest of English literature, despite some flaws (though very rare).
Profile Image for Idarah.
464 reviews48 followers
February 21, 2016
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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 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 so...perfect. 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, Linda...I'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 lot...but it's still up there on my bucket list, along with "Become a finalist on The Great British Baking Show."
August 4, 2022
Το Μίντλμαρτς είναι η νουβέλα της προόδου και της κοινωνικής αλλαγής.

Βρισκόμαστε στην Αγγλία την εποχή ανάμεσα στην Πρώτη και τη Δεύτερη Μεταρρύθμιση (1832,1867).

Έχει αρχίσει ήδη η ανεπαίσθητη βαθμιαία αλλαγή του κοινωνικού τοπίου απο ραγδαίες επιστημονικές και τεχνολογικές ανακαλύψεις αλλά και παρακμάζουσες ανθρωπιστικές αξίες.

Το Μίντλμαρτς όμως είναι πάνω απο όλα ένα έργο σιωπηλής,διαχρονικής,ιδιωτικής σύγκρουσης ανάμεσα σε δυο αντιμαχόμενα στρατόπεδα, τον άντρα και τη γυναίκα.
Τα δυο στρατόπεδα λόγω βιολογικών,φυσικών,ιστορικών,
θεσμικών οικονομικών και πολλών άλλων παραγόντων,βρέθηκαν μπλεγμένα σε μια άνιση κατάσταση με θύμα πάντα τη γυναίκα.

Το βιβλίο αυτό με απόλυτη βικτωριανή υποκριτική ευγένεια,υπεροψία,επαρχιακά κατεστημένα,ταξικά άλλοθι,κοινωνικά ταμπού και καθωσπρεπισμό,εκφράζει μια κοινωνική νομοτέλεια...Το δράμα της επιβολής της υποταγής της γυναίκας.

Ουσιαστικά πρόκειται για μια δαιδαλώδη μελέτη με σημαία το ρεαλισμό,πάνω στις ανθρώπινες σχέσεις,σε μια βρετανική επαρχία-το φανταστικό Μίντλμαρτς-γύρω στα 1830.

Η Έλιοτ ψυχογραφεί με γλυκιά ευαισθησία αλλά και καυστική ειρωνεία τους ήρωες της και ιδιαιτέρως τις γυναίκες στην αγγλική επαρχιακή κοινωνία της Βικτωριανής περιόδου.

Σε μια εποχή που δεν επιτρεπόταν οι προσωπικές επιλογές των γυναικών αλλά σιγά σιγά η ανάγκη για ελευθερία ύψωνε μέσα τους το ανάστημα της.
Η εξέγερση αυτή διαγράφεται -όπως αναφέρεται χαρακτηριστικά-ανθρωπιστικά στον ορίζοντα και σατανικά στο υποσυνείδητο.

Η κεντρική ηρωίδα προσπαθεί να ξεφύγει απο το κατεστημένο και τις συμβάσεις της κοινωνίας,θέλει να ακολουθήσει την ατομική της βούληση, όμως είναι εφοδιασμένη μόνο με ρηχές γνώσεις λογοτεχνίας και ρομάντζα κοινωνικού λουστραρίσματος όπως απαιτούσε το πνεύμα της εποχής, με σκοπό η γυναίκα να διακοσμεί και να ψυχαγωγεί τον μελλοντικό σύζυγο.

Η συγγραφέας τονίζει με μεγάλη ευστοχία και τραγική ειρωνεία στο προσκήνιο αυτού του κοινωνικού λαβύρινθου πως η αφύπνιση παντός είδους,η χειραφέτηση,η πραγματοποίηση ονείρων,επιθυμιών και ικανοτήτων,αρχίζει απο την παιδεία.

Μέσα απο την συναρπαστική,αν και πολύ αργή πλοκή και την πυκνή,αν και λίγο κουραστική αφήγηση,παρακολουθούμε τους ήρωες που γίνονται πλέον "δικοί" μας άνθρωποι,να δρουν,να ζουν,να ονειρεύονται και να ερωτεύονται σε αυτό το σεμνότυφο και υποκριτικό επαρχιακό περιβάλλον.

Εντέχνως κρύβονται οι βαθύτερες σκέψεις τους και τα αισθήματα τους μέσα σε αραχνοΰφαντες πολυπλοκότητες.

Το Μίντλμαρτς είναι ένα είδος λαβυρινθώδους μαγικής εικόνας.
Ένας ρεαλιστικά μοντέρνος μύθος που δύσκολα αναγνωρίζεται το πραγματικό και το αντίθετο του. Η παλινωδία μεταξύ φαινομένου και νοούμενου. Το τραγικό και το κωμικό. Το σοβαρό και το παράλογο. Το έγκλημα και η τιμωρία. Ο Αντρας και η Γυναίκα.

Το μυστικό όλου του έργου κρύβεται στο μαγικό κλειδί που ανοίγει όλες τις Μυθολογίες ανά τους αιώνες.

Το κλειδί είναι ο ρεαλισμός και η αφύπνιση συναισθημάτων,ικανοτήτων και σκέψεων με τη βοήθεια πάντα του Έρωτα.
Αυτό το κλειδί του μυθοποιημένου φόβου απέναντι στις "αυθεντίες" και τις ανισότητες, ανοίγει την πόρτα του υποσυνείδητου και αντικρύζει το Μύθο νεκρό.

Αιτίες θανάτου : η θεμελίωση ισοτιμίας του Εγώ του άλλου και η κατανόηση της βαθιάς αλληλέγγυας αγάπης.

Καλή ανάγνωση ( παραίνεση υπομονής ενεργοποιημένη)

Πολλούς ασπασμούς!
Profile Image for Samadrita.
295 reviews4,558 followers
October 5, 2015
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 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 their 'lower birth' do not magically acquire status and wealth, thereby proving beyond doubt that Mary Ann Evans meant to contravene the most fundamental of tropes created by her more celebrated 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 a 'soul 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 zest.
...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.

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.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.6k followers
October 7, 2010
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 also contains a considerable number of volumes from the wonderfully trashy Brigade Mondaine series. If you look at these, you'll get rather more offbeat advice: for example, don't get involved with an older man if he's investigating your twin sister for a grisly murder, or don't get involved with an older man if he's just using you to help get his regular girlfriend back from a gang of Chinese criminals who are threatening her with death by poisonous sea-snake. (Note: it's okay if poisonous sea-snakes aren't involved).

But it was the classic novels that surprised me most. I'd quite forgotten that some of them belonged to this category, and Middlemarch is the star example. Girls, don't get involved with elderly academics. They'll try and get you to do things you really don't want to do. Disgusting things. I'm having trouble even saying this, but they'll... they'll... they'll try to make you promise to edit their papers posthumously. They will. It's true. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to shock you, but it was necessary. Just say no. And run.
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
July 20, 2019
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 general, feeling there can't be anyone comparable to the wonderfully stubborn and idealistic Dorothea!

The gossipers got it all right, of course. Dorothea was not a "nice woman", marrying an illusion first and a passion next. A "nice woman" would have married greed first and ambition next, and she would have been the most respected woman in town, if she kept reasonably stupid and pretty.

I always feel a bit sorry for my immediate environment when I read one of the "big novels" for the first time, for just like Dorothea, I find it hard to play the nice and pretty and detached part that decorum expects of a lady reader. I live and breathe the book, and I get angry and frustrated and annoyed with the course the story takes. I have spent evenings muttering about Bulstrode, and mornings yelling at Rosamond, the female nightmare that the 19th century prided itself in creating as an expensive form of decorative art for conventional society (- all art is quite useless, said a wild and wise man!). I have worried with Fred and scolded with Mary, and felt for Farebrother, and told Lydgate to dump his wife and run.

I have meddled with Mrs Cadwallader, telling her that HER meddling is going in the wrong direction, and that she is setting up people for unhappiness and failure. And I have wondered at the genius of George Eliot, who must have been the most intelligent and perceptive person within the country she called home. And I have wondered how lonely she must have felt as a result of that great mind she carried around in that deeply misogynistic and conventional society.

How must the Rosamunds of her environment have suffocated her! How must the very concept of matrimony and conventionality have struck her as a road to hell? In Dorothea's brave words, her insight shines through:

"Marriage is so unlike everything else. There is something even awful in the nearness it brings."

And as the novel comes to a close, one wonders a bit if Dorothea ever felt a pang of regret that she married twice, nice or not nice as her matches may be called. One wonders if that second marriage wasn't the greatest sacrifice of all, and not because of the lost fortune, but because of the destructive principle she recognised herself. Bound to a man by the disapproval of society, would the passion stay, or would conventional awfulness take its place? Who knows? George Eliot herself only knows why she made Dorothea respectable rather than a free spirit in the end.

For after all, the whole novel is about suppressed sex. An affair (or two) would have cured that nicely...

Best of the best, and that's my blooming rage speaking in rankings!
Profile Image for Kenny.
494 reviews862 followers
October 19, 2022
It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.
Middlemarch ~~ George Eliot

Selected by Matthew for
April 2021 Big Book Read

From time to time, I fall into a novel that invites me to completely rediscover the beauty of the English language. George Eliot’s Middlemarch is one of those rare works. This extraordinary story made me laugh, made me cry, and rekindled my belief that humanity’s creative abilities are worth all the pain and suffering that comes along with them.

Yes, Middlemarch blew me away. This may well be my favorite Victorian novel.

Middlemarch is awe-inspiring; it avoids the snares that would label it conceited and weighty. Its multitude of characters and overlapping plots allows Eliot to keep the pace of the book progressing quite quickly. The narrator seldom dwells on any one point too long unless it's thematically important, while quickly moving on from aspects of Middlemarch life that are immaterial to its characters’ stories. Eliot gives us an episodic glimpse at the lives of her characters, picking those instances which together form an irresistible novel.

Eliot masterfully balances several related but distinct plots that take place in the fictitious town of Middlemarch. Although the story takes place during the Great Reform Bill of 1832, politics, thankfully, play a minor role. The story is largely character-driven and focuses on rural English life, which sounds boring until you realize that it's utterly fascinating. Imagine a highbrow Peyton Place circa 1832.

Eliot and Middlemarch owe its success to its characters. Every single character is three-dimensional, with virtues and vices, hopes and dreams, gains and setbacks. Even characters who start out as seemingly two-dimensional foils or antagonists, like Rosamond Vincy and Mister Bulstrode, turn into flesh and blood characters for whom the reader feels a mixture of sympathy, pity, and disgust. Eliot doesn't write down to her readers; her characters do both noble and ignoble deeds.


Almost all of the conflict in Middlemarch stems from gaffes by the characters themselves, along with a little external conflict added by wanderers like Raffles and Ladislaw. Eliot loves to pit two very likable characters against each other. Take, for instance, Mister Farebrother and Fred Vincy, who both love Mary Garth. Mister Farebrother’s an honest vicar who's so well-meaning that he in fact sabotages his chances with Mary by acting as Fred's emissary. Fred, while somewhat idle and lacking focus, also means well and eventually determines to get his life together and do whatever he must to earn Mary's hand. As a result, Eliot creates quandaries to which there's no happy answer ~~ a blunt equivalent to real life.

Time and again, characters entertain delusions about the world around them that prove false and even often harmful. Fred Vincy ~~ his entire family, in fact ~~ rely on the fact that he will inherit property from the ailing Peter Featherstone; he's left with nothing when Featherstone wills his estate to an illegitimate son from out of town. Dorothea marries the unpleasant Mister Casaubon because she believes it's her purpose in life to help him in his religious scholarship; instead, she ends up an unhappy widow who remarries a erratic man. Rosamond Vincy falls head-over-heels for up-and-coming Doctor Lydgate only to discover that he’s far more in love with treating patients than attending parties. Lydgate experiences a similar dissatisfaction with his spendthrift new bride. In case you haven't noticed, a good deal of the unhappiness in Middlemarch stems ~~ as it does in most Victorian novels ~~ from marital conflict.

Eliot's observations about marriage ~~ in fact, about life in general ~~ are precise and clever. She's like a funnier, more cutting, more caustic Jane Austen ~~ yes, I know Austen is funny, cutting and caustic ~~ it’s just that Eliot is more so.

In Middlemarch, on the other hand, the marital strife is real ~~ this strife is reflected in the reactions of the townspeople. Eliot's social commentary is much stronger than Austen's because Eliot has constructed an entire microcosm in the form of Middlemarch society ~~ a variety of views are championed by its characters who expose you to perspectives you may otherwise never conceive of. Ultimately, that is what makes this story ~~ all stories ~~ successful. In an era where technology makes it increasingly easier to control the perspectives to which one's exposed, Middlemarch is all the more relevant.

Middlemarch is intricately complex. I stumbled thru the first 150 pages, but once I changed my approach to it ~~ thank you, Matthew ~~ I fell in love with the characters, the village of Middlemarch and the universe Eliot created. I will have a hard time leaving this world behind.

Middlemarch is an incontestably brilliant achievement ~~ a compassionate portrait of the inescapable fragility of human nature, as well as a testament to our capacities for kindness, courage, and right action. Middlemarch is rightfully referred to as the greatest English novel of all time, and is a tremendous accomplishment. Middlemarch can proudly be placed alongside Eliot’s Russian contemporaries as a towering achievement of literature.

Profile Image for Baba.
3,560 reviews855 followers
December 19, 2022
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.”
George Eliot, Middlemarch

One of those books that I personally believe every single reader has to read at some time during their reading journey. As I spent a lot of 2008 and 2009 reading classics, I decided my time was now. This sprawling multi concurrent story arc-ed classic runs over four main plots following the lives and community of the fictitious Midlands town Middlemarch. Despite its length and age of publication this a surprising easy read although the ensemble cast and numerous story threads get a bit much at times. A tale of provincial life, the ingrained dis-empowerment of women and how marriage was just another tool to exact this. I have no doubt that this is a classic, and in its day a book that shook the world. I personally, didn't enjoy it that much, but on the other hand would never put anybody else off, of reading it. A strong Two Star, 5 out of 12. Plus it annoyed me that it took me so long to finish... churlish I know.

2008 read
Profile Image for Fionnuala.
778 reviews
August 7, 2019
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. But he does manage to express himself well in spite of his lack of volubility, and it is Eliot's description of these non-verbal communications that makes him live in the mind long after the story in which he finds himself has ended.

Caleb Garth is not one of the main characters in Middlemarch but he is nevertheless a central character, linking the other characters together. By making him a surveyor, a builder and a farm manager, Eliot can move him easily from one part of Middlemarch to another which allows him to play a pivotal role in all the principal plot threads. His quiet wisdom is like a backdrop to the entire narrative.

His wisdom reveals itself in the way he thinks carefully before speaking, and in his reluctance to repeat gossip or comment on other people's behaviour in a community in which gossip is everyday currency. He is an unusual character but not an unlikely one, I think. Indeed, I had the distinct impression that Eliot must have known someone like Caleb, that she had observed that person closely and perfectly understood his heart and mind. The impression is strengthened by the minuteness of her descriptions: the way he raises his spectacles to listen, or pushes his chair back to consider what he's just heard, or fits his fingertips together with much nicety.
The way he moves his hat about the table, sticks his fingers between the buttons of his waistcoat, or stares meditatively at the ground to avoid an awkward question. It always seemed to him that words were the hardest part of “business.”

Eliot catches his every facial expression, particularly the angle of his eyebrows as he peers over his spectacles. And she pays special attention to his hands:
He looked at the ground, leaning forward and letting his long fingers droop between his legs, while each finger moved in succession, as if it were sharing some thought which filled his large quiet brow.

Because Caleb has many thoughts, and even if the thing he most fears is having to speechify, when he does work himself up to deliver his thoughts, his eyes sparkle and his words come effortlessly. At such a moment he might pause to take a pinch of snuff but he will be so intent on delivering his thought that the snuff will remain between his fingers as if it were a part of his exposition. He was fond of a pinch when it occurred to him, but he usually forgot that this indulgence was at his command.

At other times, the words simply won't come, and under pressure, he resorts to biblical phrases: It was one of Caleb’s quaintnesses, that in his difficulty of finding speech for his thought, he caught, as it were, snatches of diction which he associated with various points of view or states of mind; and whenever he had a feeling of awe, he was haunted by a sense of Biblical phraseology, though he could hardly have given a strict quotation.

But in spite of quoting the Bible from time to time, he isn't a rigid or judgmental person: If he had to blame any one, it was necessary for him to move all the papers within his reach, or describe various diagrams with his stick, or make calculations with the odd money in his pocket, before he could begin; and he would rather do other men’s work than find fault with their doing.

How can the reader not love such a character. And if all that wasn't enough, consider this paragraph:
Caleb was very fond of music, and when he could afford it went to hear an oratorio that came within his reach, returning from it with a profound reverence for this mighty structure of tones, which made him sit meditatively, looking on the floor and throwing much unutterable language into his outstretched hands.
I rest my case.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,002 reviews35.9k followers
November 4, 2022
Whew!!!! Review soon … going to rest first.

Update — review below (ha, not an easy book to review), but I gave it 5 stars for the magnificent magnitude masterpiece that this book is — ( hard to deny it).
Sure, I struggled- but I also enjoyed plenty!

Ebook — synced with audiobook….
The audio was narrated by Maureen O’Brien (an English actress and author)…..
I thought Maureen was terrific.
I’ve had no active life recently….(not a happy camper about it)…but I’ve an abundant amount of time to lie around and read. (but it gets tiring sometimes too - so I’ve done a lot of just lying around — [my life is on ‘pause’ these days]….waiting for for brilliant medical answers.
You know what I might remember most about this book years from now? My own physical limitations, radiating pain from my spine, and waiting for a diagnosis and a medical miracle quick cure.
….along with the knowledge that most of the time when I read …. it’s a comforting experience, reduces stress and depression, and then if the book is really good — I get excited to chat about it with a friend. ‘Book-phone-chat’ is sooo much more satisfying than ‘sex-phone-chat’.

I started out reading the ebook format —
I soon discovered the audiobook was a freebie with my Audible membership.
Adding Maureen O’Brien’s unique voice — while also reading along with the ebook allowed for deeper concentration, plus I enjoyed the way Maureen delivered the voices of the different characters personalities.
Maureen’s artistry was like a full bright-colorful rainbow ….
her changes of intonation, inflection, accents, transitions, and variations….were superb. She added charm!
By reading along with Maureen —it was easy to stop the audiobook at any time and highlight passages.
….. the audio itself is 32 hours and 23 minutes.

So…..what to share about this book….
…..Dorothea Brooke was forthright — often blunt. Smart & savvy
but ‘not’ so smart that she married Edward Casaubon, who was twice her age, an unbetting match.
I understood Dorothea’s reasoning to marry Casaubon….(an intelligent scholar she felt she could learn from) —but many hidden ‘marriage-match’ flaws continued to unravel.
Dorothea was only nineteen at the start. She was an orphan — and had great dreams of doing something meaningful in the world. (we have a clue her dreams won’t be a straight line to proud success).

…..Mr. Casaubon was 45 years old, wealthy, high ranking in society—a church going man, socially awkward….and a rather dull husband. He was also controlling, jealous, and basically an all around no-fun husband.

…..Tertius Lydgate was the younger stud-doctor. He had medical practice outside of Middlemarch…..and was considered an idealist for wanting to reform medicine. He married Rosamond Vincy. (the shallow beauty every man wish to fuck— oops— marry).

Problems - problems - problems continue….( gotta have more then just fantasy love and good looks)….

There are tons of characters:
…..Celia Brooke was Dorothea‘s younger sister who married Sir James.
….Mary Garth — a loyal woman….writes children’s books. She marries a man named Fred Featherstone, and they have three children..
…..there is the town banker, a Polish musician, a grandmother, an owner of a huge estate, a frog face man, etc.

There are secrets, feminist themes, sickness, (thyroid fever), wisdom and moral inquiry….
“Life must be taken up on a lower stage of expectation, as it is by men who have lost their limbs”.

I’m not sure why this is considered the greatest British novel ever….(I’m an American)….but it’s considered a masterpiece.
So, sure, I’ll bite: This book is a work of extraordinary skill.
It was not an easy-breezy read — but for my first read I did alright …. I have and had my own flaws as a reader, of Middlemarch ….as much as the characters had flaws…..
(But I had compassion for the characters—and compassion for myself)….thankful to Michelle for encouraging me to stay with it.
I ‘can’ promise you a rose garden but I can’t promise I’ll read this again.

But ….it was an overall valuable experience ….and I’m happy to also be done.

Women, marriages, unfulfilling marriages, deaths, more marriages, religion, philosophy, music, political reform, education, heroines and villains, scandals, struggles and weaknesses, criticized and pitied characters, success and failures, identity, community conformity, men taken care of by good wives, complexity,
and disturbances of ‘calm’.

Perhaps today in 2022, this book could be called “The Problems With Love”…..

I’ll end with a small quote that speaks to me…..(wisdom I try to practice myself)
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view”.

Blessings to my friends…..I soooooo cherish our connections

…..this will be my favorite in the world if I soon become pain free….getting medical help that will help….so I can be a happy spunky - moveable woman again.
Profile Image for Kalliope.
691 reviews22 followers
January 23, 2018

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 you. (bold 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.


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 him."

must not we, being impartial, feel with him a little?

Or 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 wrong."

But 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 example."

Or even more astounding, 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 is more persuasive?
…painting 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.
Profile Image for Piyangie.
517 reviews412 followers
August 10, 2022
This is such a beautiful book and the first George Eliot work that I enjoyed. I've read her before, and although I appreciated their merit, I cannot say that I enjoyed them. In Middlemarch, I found a work of Eliot that I truly enjoyed.

The original title of this work is Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life. True to the title, the work portrays the lives of people in a provincial town. Their conventions, their social, political, and religious ideologies, their values, their social status, their pride, their vanities, their jealousies, their suspicions, the way of living, the inter-human relationships, all are discussed at length in the work. The author's observing nature is well displayed throughout the book whereby the ideas, values, and human nature are truthfully and genuinely portrayed.

Although many areas are discussed through this lengthy work, it can be narrowed down thematically to three distinct categories: social status, conventions, and relationships. These three themes are interwoven and are brought to light through the numerous characters employed in the story. Victorian Era is well known for its conventional rigidity and the judgmental and opinionated society. Eliot brings them to light brilliantly, all the time subtly satirizing them.

There are three love stories here. The first and foremost is the one between the female protagonist, Dorothea, and Will Ladislaw. When young Dorothea's elderly husband dies being suspicious of hers and Will's friendship, he puts a codicil in his will preventing a future union between them. Will is of a questionable parentage although being related to Dorothea's husband. This codicil and the conventional view of her friends that she will fall from social rank by marrying a man beneath him work as a yoke on Dorothea. But her willful, strong and just nature defies convention, dares poverty, and follows her heart. The steady and strong attachment between Fred and Mary despite the difference in their social status (according to Fred's family) is another. The educated yet unstable Fred has no proper vocation, nor has he any wealth. But despite all obstacles, they remain faithful to each other, Mary and her father, slowly helping him to stand on his own feet - Mary through encouraging and Mr. Garth through aiding. The more rigid and artificial relationship is the one between pretty Rosamond and Dr. Lydgate. Both being entered into matrimony through a mistaken conception of each other, they find the marital bond to be rather too heavy. These three love stories were quite interesting. And I was quite surprised at the author's willingness to create happy ending love stories, for I have always associated her with tragedies.

The characters, be it main or supporting, were an interesting lot. Eliot has chosen them with care. I couldn't find a male protagonist, but the female protagonist, Dorothea grew on me. She was introduced as an ignorant, naive, and high-minded young girl for whom I didn't care much. Her character is developed through her trials and she becomes a strong, willful yet kind, sympathetic as well as an empathetic young woman. Eliot tends to create strong female characters and it is quite appealing. This story has two strong women. One is the above mentioned Dorothea. The second is Mary Garth who with her influence and love helps Fred become stable in life. Despite her love to have strong female characters, she uses a good number of strong male characters as well here. And through the balance Eliot has been able to portray the true conditions and relations between the two opposing sex during the Victorian time.

Eliot's writing is bold and commanding. She doesn't concentrate on poetic beauty but is concerned more in the power with which she tells her story. I have always liked her tone of voice. The story is a mixture of Austenian social criticism and Dostoevskian human psychology and her bold and graceful writing blended well with the story.

Middlemarch really is one beautiful work I read in a while. It is quite a complete work which gives immense enjoyment and satisfaction for those who read it. I never thought that I'll be ever able to enthusiastically praise George Eliot, and I'm happy to have been able to do so. Now I can say with my whole heart that she is a great author.
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,938 reviews429 followers
April 5, 2023
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 fact that I didn't much want to read it. And, I must say, it is too long. There are some books that need to be that long but they are few and far between: this was written in a double-Dickensian manner. That made it pretty tough going.

The characters were not of any interest to me singularly. I felt no sympathy for any of them, nor any empathy, and I didn't much care what happened to them as individuals. That's quite rare in books, but in this case it mattered less than it should have because collectively as Middlemarchers they were sublime creatures. Their intricacies and the way they were threaded together-relying on one another for everything-was spectacularly written. I felt the warm-heartedness and cold-aloofness of the community within my very being.

Middlemarch itself as a place is so very intriguing. It was lacking certain elements of world-building in the guise of description, but if you can imagine the English countryside with rolling hills and brick farms and many a cow then you're half-way there. Middlemarch still exists almost today and I almost live there, which adds to the romance of the whole thing. The location of this book is one of the best things about it and, I suppose, the slow nature of the book reflects the slow nature of countryside life.

The era is blameless, too. Regency England right through to the end of the First World War is the golden period of English when it comes to book eras. It is a magical period to look back on and the books actually written in those times are almost faultless when considering their era and setting alone. I had a hard time reading through this book but there were still so many little things to be enjoyed. It is quite the behemoth (and was recently voted as the number one best British book by non-British critics) and it can be daunting and perhaps a little tedious, but the way it draws you in a slows down time, lulling you in to a requiem of almost infinite repose is quite something.
Profile Image for Traveller.
228 reviews714 followers
April 12, 2017
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 lack all 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 anymore, 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 towards more "practical" 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 René Laënnec 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;

Time and time again, Eliot illustrates the frustration that an intelligent woman had to endure in Victorian England: "...there 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 it more interestingly, and in less of a schoolmarmish tone.

The novel would be more enjoyable 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.
Profile Image for Perry.
632 reviews515 followers
August 22, 2020
Made it to Page 700. Cannot Read 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 the dialogue and acts, e.g., on how what was said or done makes this female character feel and how she might have felt if she knew what he felt or if he'd instead said or done it a different way, or what the male character should believe the female character might think her mum is going to do in reaction to what the female tells her mum that he said, which might in turn lead to "X" or to "Y."

Instead of giving the reader dialogue, descriptions and characters' inner thoughts from which the reader may draw conclusions, she tells the reader what to conclude, how to feel, etc. ad nauseam, which makes me shout, " GRR ARGHHHHH ," and feel like the massive book would better serve as a doorstop or firestarter.

I understand this novel is much ballyhooed. It just seems to me that I've hit 700 pages and nothing much has happened, with no real narrative drive. Picking the book up has become as enjoyable as going for dental work or filling out my tax return.

I am NOT saying this novel is poorly written or conceived. It's simply that I cannot read nearly 1,000 pages of this style of writing.
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
457 reviews3,240 followers
May 6, 2023
George Eliot's ( Mary Ann Evans) masterpiece, Middlemarch set in 1830 England about the aforesaid village's inhabitants and relationships with each other...not too well, this is a novel people. The basic characters or leading personalities Dorothea Brooke young extremely pretty, intelligent but naive orphan raised by a loving uncle Arthur, isn't too bright though with little sister Celia naturally adores her big sibling who unknowingly intermediates her. In a bad move DOROTHEA WEDS Edward Casaubon a scholar, older bookworm... can you believe it?... (Others unstated here are supporting players). Tertius Lydgate idealistic , highly capable yet impoverished doctor beginning his practice, still an outsider thus not trusted here. Local established medicine men are unfriendly , the new ways unwelcome by them. While Dr.Lydgate struggle to be accepted working mostly in a free hospital and his new wife Rosamond from a prominent family of Vincy ( what there is in Middlemarch) the best looking woman in town but selfish. However she likes nice things the more expensive the better. Dr. Lydgate is afraid to intervene as bills pileup, go unpaid he has numerous patients that lack resources.What can he do ? Her family had opposed the marriage nevertheless nobody could say no to the lady. The big wheel in local society is Ncholas Bulstrode a religious hypocrite and wealthy banker with rather an unsavory background. When a mysterious, uncouth drunken stranger Rafferty appears... what connection has he to the great and powerful Mr. BULSTRODE...? Why is he afraid ...And unfortunate marriages dominates the plot in the era when to escape from them was impossible and scandals must be avoided at all cost otherwise life would become difficult if not impossible. This classic isn't just another but a great examination of society in a small town much more sophisticated than you can imagine. In the Pre -Victorian age people are different still however things haven't changed that much. . . As time passes this key work will never be forgotten, too good for obscurity and we are grateful.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,822 followers
January 11, 2019
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 total, it would have been eight or nine 100 to 140 page episodes.

Speaking of episodes, I think this book would make a good BBC mini-series and I think perhaps it already has. As a lot of the subject matter deals with medical care politics, I was reminded of the hospital storylines in Downton Abbey. And, while reading was a bit of a chore, I don't think a mini-series would be.

Storywise, despite the book being long, the story itself is not very Epic. There are a few key plots focusing on about 4 or 5 characters, but when you reflect on it in the end, not a whole lot actually happens. In fact, the Wikipedia summary is only a few paragraphs. With that in mind, this is a good book for people who love the writing style of the time period because you get more of that than actual plot.

If you like the classics and don't mind a formidable tome, Middlemarch is right up your alley!
Profile Image for Amina.
373 reviews134 followers
March 6, 2023
I have been sitting on this review for about a week. It's hard to put into words, an accurate review of a book that takes on the inner workings and minute details of a provincial town.

George Eliot's masterpiece Middlemarch takes about 200 pages to even begin to understand the complexities of each character. The surprising fact is that slowly, without even realizing it, you learn something profound about yourself. Through the characters, you decide what you want to be, and then again what you don't. This book is about decency and goodness.

I truly believe I would have been obsessed with Middlemarch in my 20s—learning to navigate my future. The characters, many of whom are young, are still coming to terms with their lives and the direction they want to take. It seemed so relatable. I wish someone had told me...

It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view

Dorothea Brooke, by far my favorite flawed, yet beautiful character, resonated with me. Dorethea is young and honest, she wants to follow her path, but when she finds herself in tragic circumstances, she tries to make the best of it. She marries a much older man, Edward Casaubon. This marriage early on, sets the tone for the breadth of the book. She is like a trapped bird, living in this unhappy union, but still moving along. Dorothea meets Casaubon's cousin Will Ladislaw-- the two strike up a friendship. This friendship takes a direction that Dorothea is not willing to accept.

Within these complicated relationships, George Elliot reminds us of the complexities and sacrifices of marriage. There is a good amount of attention put on married life; the hopes and disappointments.

We also meet Teritus Lydgate, a doctor that is an idealist (like Dorothea) and not completely enamored with wealth. He meets the beautiful Rosamund, who thinks Lydgate will be this wealthy man, sweeping her off her feet. Lydgate, (to me), didn't seem like someone who should have been married. He seemed more than anything to be married to his work. The financial burdens and continuous commitment to his career, haunt him and propel him throughout the novel.

I also enjoyed the character of Camden Farebrother, a vicar who helps many of the patrons of Middlemarch navigate the difficult moments in their lives. He seems like an overall good person, continuously giving up his dreams for the betterment of others.

There are a multitude of interesting characters, but for the sake of sanity, I've touched upon a few of my favorites. The interesting thing about George Elliot's Middlemarch-- it's three different novels weaved into one. Somehow, in the end, the lives of most of the characters intertwine. When the character's finally meet, you feel vested in their relationships. There is so much detailed information given about each character's emotions and feelings, connecting you to their lives.

It took me about 4 months to read Middlemarch. I would read and shelf it for a while, but every break drew me back into the lives of the Middlemarch characters. The ending seemed a bit abrupt and surprising in the direction each character turned, but isn't that life? Sometimes ordinary people can take extraordinary turns. I suppose that is why we always say to “expect the unexpected”.

Middlemarch is a slow burn novel in its entirety. If you aren't committed to detailed prose and lengthy explanations, entwined with beautiful, eloquent writing, this may not be for you. The words are deep and layered with meaning, it takes time to take it all in.

George Elliot explores every aspect of society; from money and greed to progress and reform. Middlemarch is a thorough explanation of all the workings of life in the mid-1800s.

This quote resonated beautifully with me:

"That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don't quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil--widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower."

I give Middlemarch 4 stars for the setting and plot with an additional star for being such a complex, detailed work of art by a woman who at the time had to disguise her gender to be relevant.

5/5 stars
Profile Image for Axl Oswaldo.
332 reviews145 followers
September 2, 2022
Once I finished reading Middlemarch the first thing I did was to send a message to a friend of mine who told me 'Middlemarch is a difficult read, Middlemarch is boring, it's not even a novel but an essay, I was almost halfway through the book and then I DNF it', and say to him that he was telling me some lies.
First of all, Middlemarch is like any other Victorian novel, a story that is mainly depicting the lives of some inhabitants of a small town in England, in short, interpersonal relationships and human bonding; in fact, if I had to describe Middlemarch by saying a couple of words, those ones would be 'marriage and illusions' (perhaps I must not explain why I would choose these words, the reader will have to find out the answer by reading the book and perhaps they will agree with me). Second of all, Middlemarch is by no means a difficult read, or at least not a boring, tedious book; on the contrary, I would say Middlemarch is rather compelling and exciting, with a bunch of interesting characters and topics that are beautifully depicted and developed.
As for the essay thing, it was not necessarily true: I was expecting Middlemarch to be an essay that was disguised as a novel, and not the other way around; I was expecting to find long non-fiction chapters focused on politics, society, maybe religion, and even when we have a long chapter talking about medicine, another one describing to a certain point the Reform Act (1832), and a third one focused on a candidate selection (politics), they were neither boring nor difficult to understand.

At this point, I could tell why my friend was saying such things regarding this book to me: he is probably not into Victorian novels that much, which would explain his experience reading this novel. As for me, I'm a big sucker for Victorian literature, and so far I have read a decent amount of novels from that period of time (or at least, that's what I think). Actually, reading Middlemarch made me bring other reading experiences to mind, novels that are very similar to this George Eliot's book in terms of the content, for instance, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne Brontë), North and South (Elizabeth Gaskell), He Knew He Was Right (Anthony Trollope), and a little of The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins) due to a secret that someone is keeping.
It is true that I wouldn't recommend Middlemarch to anyone who wants to start reading Victorian novels, partly because of its length (800 pages or so), and partly because of the narrative that might be daunting at times. Here is when I would say Middlemarch becomes a 'unique' Victorian novel, since Eliot's writing style is absolutely thought-provoking and precise, even informative from beginning to end, where you can tell the author knows exactly what she is talking about, and in fact, the more she talks about this or that topic, the more you get captivated by the amount of things she knows. In other words, she is a complete genius.

Even when Middlemarch as a town is the main protagonist of the novel—or at least this is my conclusion after finishing the book—the author is scarcely describing Middlemarch, physically speaking. We know Middlemarch because of its people, because of their relationships and because of their characteristics as a community. Now, here is when the subtitle of the novel makes completely sense ('A Study of Provincial Life') since the author is portraying beautifully and meticulously the life of these people in the countryside, their behavior along with their thoughts, beliefs, interests, and the like. Complex, memorable and very well developed characters such as Dorothea, Lydgate, Rosamond, and Will Ladislaw are impossible to forget, being those kinds of characters who you always care about, and furthermore, it's difficult not to empathize with them since they are really palpable and profound.

In a nutshell, Middlemarch is an unforgettable reading experience, probably one of the best Victorian novels ever written, and a book you have to read at least once in your life. In my case, I buddy-read this one with a good friend of mine—the same guy who I read The Golden Bowl with—and he was also surprised when he found an understandable yet complex story here; as I said before, don't be afraid of giving it a go, don't think Middlemarch is boring, confusing, tedious, or things of that kind. Even, I would say there is one subplot in the novel that is incredibly gossipy, and my friend and I agreed that Eliot's sense of humor is so spot on.
Needles to say I'd wholeheartedly recommend Middlemarch* to someone who has read some Victorian novels beforehand, you know, just in case.

* You could tell me, if you want, how many times I said 'Middlemarch' in my entire review... just kidding (it was on purpose, by the way).

P. S. I almost forgot to recommend the audiobook I listened this time. There is one on Audible that was my first pick; I'd say it was okayish, but the reason why I don't recommend that one is because the narrator is skipping all the epigraphs!, and literally every chapter in this novel has an epigraph. It was kinda disappointing, therefore I decided to do that one on LibriVox, narrated by Margaret Espalliat; this one, despite being free, was much better: a great voice, good pace and the narrator is actually reading the epigraphs. So, this one was my choice from the first third(?) of the book until the end. A great version that brings the story to life, so to speak.


Favorite quotes:

It is so painful in you ... that you will look at human beings as if they were merely animals with a toilette, and never see the great soul in a man’s face.

We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time; keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say, ‘Oh, nothing!’ Pride helps us; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our own hurts–not to hurt others.

If I did love you, I would not marry you: I would certainly not promise ever to marry you.

What have you had such an education for, if you are to go and marry a poor man? It’s a cruel thing for a father to see.

They were bound to each other by a love stronger than any impulses which could have marred it.

Indeed 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 wrong.

All existence seemed to beat with a lower pulse than her own, and her religious faith was a solitary cry, the struggle out of a nightmare in which every object was withering and shrinking away from her.

There are answers which, in turning away wrath, only send it to the other end of the room, and to have a discussion coolly waived when you feel that justice is all on your own side is even more exasperating in marriage than in philosophy.

The soul of man, when it gets fairly rotten, will bear you all sorts of poisonous toad-stools, and no eye can see whence came the seed thereof.
Profile Image for Martine.
145 reviews667 followers
July 11, 2008
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 everyone should read before getting married, and I agree -- all the lessons you need to learn about human relationships are in here, and much more besides.

To a large extent, the success of Middlemarch is due to its characterisation. A character-driven novel if ever I saw one, Middlemarch features some of the most memorable characters Eliot ever came up with: an earnest young lady who wishes to make a difference; her husband, a petty and jealous scholar; a hot-tempered doctor who is a little ahead of his time; his wife, a living embodiment of the fact that pretty girls don't always make the best spouses; a pious banker who is not the good Christian he has always professed to be; his nephew, who desperately wishes to win the heart of the girl he loves despite his mounting gambling debts; a talented outsider who doesn't quite know how to make the most of his gifts -- they're all here, and they're described in admirable detail. Like a scientist, Eliot puts her characters under a microscope, describing their every flaw and weakness, but always in a sympathetic way; even her worst characters have redeeming features, which makes it very easy to take an interest in their vicissitudes. Like an anthropologist, she then puts her characters into a socio-cultural context, showing the whole through the parts and the parts through the whole. The historical background (political changes, the industrial revolution, new medical theories) is magnificently drawn, and the stories (there are many here) are as fine as they come, featuring love triangles, thwarted prospects, intrigue, political aspirations, blackmail, gossip, characters meddling in other people's lives from beyond the grave, and a clash between old values and modern science and technology. Granted, the book takes a while to hit its stride, but once it does, it's unputdownable.

As for shortcomings, one could say that Eliot is occasionally a tad too intellectual for her own good. Frightfully well-read herself, she sometimes has her characters refer to things which seem a bit outside their scope. Likewise, she occasionally loses herself in technical and political details which slightly detract from the main stories, and takes so much time setting the scene for the great developments which are to follow later that the first half of the book is a tad dull. The second half is brilliant, though -- up there with the great French and Russian realist classics of the period, and then some. It's not the easiest read, but a patient reader will be amply rewarded for his/her trouble, especially if he/she takes the trouble the read the book more than once. Middlemarch is one of those books which yield new gems every time one reads them, and I cherish it for that.
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