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Middlemarch
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Archived Group Reads 2016 > Middlemarch-Pre-reading chat and background information

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Frances (francesab) | 305 comments Welcome to our Middlemarch read, which will start on October 15th.

This is where we invite anyone who has interesting background information about the book or author to post.

Before we start, why not let us know about your own experience with the book. Have you read it before? If so, how many times? Are you an Eliot fan or is this your first exposure to her writing? Are you going to use a book book or an e-reader?

This is my second time reading Middlemarch, but I must confess to having only the vaguest recollection of the novel. As it was recently voted #1 on this list

https://www.theguardian.com/books/boo...

and My Life in Middlemarch was recently published to considerable acclaim, I decided it was time for another reading. So I am looking forward to reading this with other lovers of Victorian literature.

I will be reading a book book, with occasional use of the ebook app on my phone if I am caught out without my book in my purse!


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Renee M | 1877 comments Mod
This will be my third time with Middlemarch. Although, the second reading was a blur. I'm glad we're taking it slow this time. There's a lot going on in this one.


message 3: by Haaze (last edited Oct 04, 2016 10:55PM) (new) - added it

Haaze | 39 comments I have never read Middlemarch. However, after reading Daniel Deronda last year I have become very interested in her as an author. The novel surprised me in so many ways. She has a Dickensian knack for details combined with a deep and fascinating psychological undertow throughout the book. It was a fascinating read as well as a wonderful first encounter with her works. It would be inspiring to delve deeper into her life through a biography as well as her journals. Would you recommend any of the numerous biographies?

I very much look forward to the renowned Middlemarch!


Everyman | 2531 comments Frances wrote: "Before we start, why not let us know about your own experience with the book. Have you read it before? If so, how many times? Are you an Eliot fan or is this your first exposure to her writing? Are you going to use a book book or an e-reader?
.."


I have read it in full at least three times, and portions of it more than that.

I am a fan of certain of Eliot's work. Middlemarch definitely. Adam Bede and The Mill on the Floss also. Silas Marner I detested the first time I read it, in high school (back in my day we read real literature in high school.) I stayed away from it for a long time, but when I came back to it, I loved it.

Scenes of Clerical Life isn't a novel, but when I read it several decades ago now I found parts of it quite good and other parts less so, though at the moment I can't name which parts were which for me.

Romola, Felix Holt, and Daniel Deronda I am much less fond of, though they are still very readable.


Everyman | 2531 comments Frances wrote: "As it was recently voted #1 on this list

https://www.theguardian.com/books/boo...."


I'm not sure I would have voted it #1, but it certainly, for me, is in the top five. And it has been justly praised by many: Virginia Woolf famously called it one of the few English novels written for grown up people. Harold Bloom, in The Western Canon (a book that should be on every serious reader's bookshelf, not necessarily to read through but as a reference and resource and a great mind to argue with, which I do frequently) called it a canonical novel (along with Bleak House), believes that it draws strongly on Paradise Lost (I've never looked for that, but will in this reading, commented that "it is [Eliot's] subtlest analysis of the moral imagination, possibly the subtlest ever achieved in prose fiction," and concludes his comments on it with "The canonical novel, in the summer of its existence, may have reached its Sublime in Middlemarch, whose effect upon readers remains 'incalculably diffusive.'"


Everyman | 2531 comments Eliot was a fascinating woman, well worth reading about. The only biography of her that I have direct knowledge of is Haight's, George Eliot by Gordon S. Haight , but I can strongly recommend it.


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Haaze | 39 comments Everyman wrote: "Eliot was a fascinating woman, well worth reading about. The only biography of her that I have direct knowledge of is Haight's, George Eliot by Gordon S. Haight, but I can strongly recommend it."

Thanks Everyman!


Jane Greensmith (janegs) | 149 comments I'm a long-time fan of George Eliot and Middlemarch in particular. I first read the book in college in about 1978--since then I've read it at least 3 times. Back in 2009, after I finished reading Gaskell end-to-end, I decided to do the same with Eliot. The plan was to read Jenny Uglow's bio of Eliot as I worked my way through her works. I'm now up to Middlemarch and looking forward to rereading it with a group.

Here are some of my blog posts on my reading of Eliot. There are more, about some of the adaptations.

From Maryann Evans to Marian Evans to George Eliot: https://janegs.blogspot.com/2009/12/f...

The Sad Fortunes of Rev. Amos Barton: https://janegs.blogspot.com/2010/02/s...

Mr Gilfil's Love-Story: https://janegs.blogspot.com/2010/02/m...

Adam Bede: https://janegs.blogspot.com/2010/11/a...

The Lifted Veil: https://janegs.blogspot.com/2010/12/l...

The Mill on the Floss: https://janegs.blogspot.com/2011/04/m...

Silas Marner: https://janegs.blogspot.com/2012/01/c...

Romola and Shakespeare: https://janegs.blogspot.com/2012/11/r...


Jane Greensmith (janegs) | 149 comments Everyman wrote: "it draws strongly on Paradise Lost (I've never looked for that, but will in this reading..."

Never heard that either, but find the idea interesting. I've said on many occasions that Austen is my favorite author, but Middlemarch is my favorite novel.



Peter Jane wrote: "I'm a long-time fan of George Eliot and Middlemarch in particular. I first read the book in college in about 1978--since then I've read it at least 3 times. Back in 2009, after I finished reading G..."

Hi Jane

Good to hear from you again. I have purposely avoided Middlemarch for far too many years to count. It looks like there is lots of enthusiasm and interesting people ready to do the read together so perhaps I should give myself a good kick and join in.


Janice (JG) I haven't read Middlemarch, but I think that's because I kept getting it confused with The Forsyte Saga, which I tried to read several times but would eventually abandon.

I have read Silas Marner, and enjoyed it tremendously. Like Haaze, Eliot surprised me with the "psychological undertow" of this story. Plus, her characters were all very natural and believable.


Everyman | 2531 comments Janice(JG) wrote: "I have read Silas Marner, and enjoyed it tremendously. ."

Yes, isn't it excellent? Unfortunately much of my generation got turned off on it (and Eliot) because if was force-fed to us in 9th grade, when we were far too young to appreciate it. It's a book (as is all of Eliot) which requires some maturity to appreciate.


Daniele I read Middlemarch so long ago that it is a dim memory. I do remember loving it. So here is to round two. I will be downloading it. Are there any recommendations as to which edition, editor,etc. I see two versions referenced.


Bharathi (bharathi14) | 158 comments I finished reading Middlemarch for the second time about year or 18months back. I loved it the first time, and enjoyed it again. I may not read it again so soon, but I intend following the discussion. I am looking forward to all the comments.


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Renee M | 1877 comments Mod
Daniele-
Can you give a little info on the versions you are choosing between... Maybe editor or edition. I'll bet someone has some insight for you.


message 16: by Lynne, In Memoriam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) | 243 comments Mod
I am brand new here and will give both the book and author a try. I am currently slogging through Dicken's "Barnaby Rudge" and the Big D is not usually a slog for me, so I was hesitant to jump into something new. After reading the comments here, I think I am quite likely to find Middlemarch a vast change from Barnaby so will give it a go. I will be reading it on Kindle and would welcome any suggestions for versions. Thanks in advance!


Daniele Renee wrote: "Daniele-
Can you give a little info on the versions you are choosing between... Maybe editor or edition. I'll bet someone has some insight for you."


Thank you Renee. I just discovered that I have two copies already. The Barnes & Noble version in paper. and the the Delphi Complete Works in e. These should suffice. I am excited to read her again.


Vanessa Winn | 61 comments This is my first reading of Middlemarch. I read the Mill on the Floss many years ago, and remember little about it, except the ending. The Guardian survey intrigued me -- but I'd like to know what British readers think, too!


Peter Hi Vanessa

Good to see you will be reading along with us.


Vanessa Winn | 61 comments Thank you, Peter! I'm glad to see this group is reading Middlemarch, and look forward to the discussion.


message 21: by Kev (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kev (kevruiz) | 1 comments I started reading a couple of weeks back but through lack of time and finding it slowish, I am at mid point in the novel. Will be coming back and joining the discussion jumping in at various points respecting the chapter limitations set out for discussion


LindaH | 499 comments This is my third reading of Middlemarch. I read it back in college along Silas Marner, The Mill on the Floss and Adam Bede, those were the sixties, Eliot was big on my list, but now I only have faint memories. Several years ago I listened to an audible of Middlemarch, and I loved it. Recently I read Jennifer Uglow's biography of Eliot and decided I had to revisit her novels. Uglow puts a feminist interpretation on everything , which seemed too predictable, but her account of Eliot's early life as an intellectual in a man's world, is excellent. I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's thoughts. I'm listening to the audible again, but I may download an e-version too.


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Renee M | 1877 comments Mod
It's my 3rd time as well and I'm listening to to the Juliet Stevenson reading this time (Audible). It's quite, quite wonderful; making this my favorite experience with the novel.


Everyman | 2531 comments Renee wrote: "It's my 3rd time as well and I'm listening to to the Juliet Stevenson reading this time (Audible). It's quite, quite wonderful; making this my favorite experience with the novel."

I'm also listening to it, though also reading to keep up since I can't keep up with the pace in the time available for listening. But yes, it's a very different experience, and I'm getting a lot more from the audio because I have to attend to every word, no skipping over sections that seem less compelling.


Peter http://dickens.ucsc.edu/news-events/n...

Here is a link to an interesting activity regarding Middlemarch.


message 26: by Lynne, In Memoriam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) | 243 comments Mod
Thanks


Everyman | 2531 comments Peter wrote: "http://dickens.ucsc.edu/news-events/n...

Here is a link to an interesting activity regarding Middlemarch."


Well, I'm not sure I know exactly what was going on. A five hour reading marathon -- does that mean each person reading it for themselves over the course of five hours at their own place and time? Or are they all gathered in a room for five hours and need to be done at the end of that?

There were rousing cheers when they all finished Book 1 at 8:32, but no mention of when they started, and of course that's only 12.5% of the book. How long did that take, and when do they finish the rest of the book?

Any journalism student would give this story an F for massive lack of clarity and information.

And, of course, one has to wonder at a university which issues a news release about a project involving a major English masterpiece and misspells the name of a major character. " “I see Mr. Cassaubon as the villain of the piece. Dorothea is kidding herself that she’s in love with him. She really wants him, she fancies him (that’s the English word for having the hots for someone),” she said to general laughter." (I actually disagree that he's the villain of the piece, though it's way too early in our group read to discuss that question.)

Anyhow, though, thanks for posting the link!


Veronique I wish I could join you. It took me three times to get through Middlemarch but by the end, when I finally succeeded, I'd fallen in love with it, and have re-read it many times. Might be tempted in the future to try Stevenson's audio :0)


Daniele Here is a link for a great article in the new yorker magazine about Middlemarch.
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/201...


message 30: by Peter (last edited Nov 07, 2016 06:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Peter Daniele wrote: "Here is a link for a great article in the new yorker magazine about Middlemarch.
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/201......"


Great. Thank you. The piece The New Yorker did on Trollope was a great read as well.

There are spoilers in the Middlemarch article so readers should consider this prior to reading.


message 31: by Lynne, In Memoriam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) | 243 comments Mod
Daniele wrote: "Here is a link for a great article in the new yorker magazine about Middlemarch.
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/201......"


Many thanks the the link!


message 32: by Lynne, In Memoriam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) | 243 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "Daniele wrote: "Here is a link for a great article in the new yorker magazine about Middlemarch.
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/201......"


And thank you for the spoiler alert!


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