19th Century Epic Romances discussion

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Middlemarch - May/June 2015 > Middlemarch: Book discussion

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message 1: by Carol (last edited Apr 29, 2015 11:26AM) (new) - added it

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 116 comments
Reading schedule for:
Middlemarch by George Eliot

BOOK 1: Miss Brooke
Friday, May 1-7, pages 3 to 114 (111 pages)

BOOK 2: Old and Young
Friday, May 8-14, pages 115 to 215 (100 pages)

BOOK 3: Waiting for Death
Friday, May 15-21, pages 216 to 306 (90 pages)

BOOK 4: Three Love Problems
Friday, May 22-28, pages 307 to 408 (101 pages)

BOOK 5: The Dead Hand
Friday, May 29-June 4, pages 409 to 506 (97 pages)

BOOK 6: The Widow and the Wife
Friday, June 5-11, pages 507 to 606 (99 pages)

BOOK 7: Two Temptations
Friday, June 12-18, pages 607 to 697 (90 pages)

BOOK 8: Sunset and Sunrise
Friday, June 19-25, pages 698 to 799 (101 pages)

Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 504 comments Thank you Carol!!

Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 504 comments "George Eliot was born on November 22, 1819. Baptized Mary Anne Evans, Eliot chose to write her novels under a male pseudonym. She scorned the stereotypical female novelist; rather than writing the silly, unrealistic romantic tales expected of women writers, she wrote according to her own tastes. Her first attempt to write Middlemarch—now her most famous novel—ended in failure and despair. Shortly after this initial failure, she began a short novella entitled Miss Brooke. The writing proceeded quickly, and she later integrated the novella into Middlemarch. The novel was published serially in eight parts.

Middlemarch is a novel of epic proportions, but it transforms the notion of an epic. Epics usually narrate the tale of one important hero who experiences grand adventure, and they usually interpret events according to a grand design of fate. Every event has immediate, grand consequences. Kings and dynasties are made and unmade in epic tales.

Middlemarch's subtitle is "A Study of Provincial Life." This means that Middlemarch represents the lives of ordinary people, not the grand adventures of princes and kings. Middlemarch represents the spirit of nineteenth-century England through the unknown, historically unremarkable common people. The small community of Middlemarch is thrown into relief against the background of larger social transformations, rather than the other way around.

England is the process of rapid industrialization. Social mobility is growing rapidly. With the rise of the merchant middle class, one's birth no longer necessarily determines one's social class for life. Chance occurrences can make or break a person's success. Moreover, there is no single coherent religious order. Evangelical Protestants, Catholics, and Anglicans live side by side. As a result, religious conflicts abound in the novel, particularly those centering on the rise of Evangelical Protestantism, a primarily middle-class religion that created heated doctrinal controversy.

Middlemarch readers will be astonished by the novel's amazingly complex social world. Eliot continually uses the metaphor of a web to describe the town's social relations. She intricately weaves together the disparate life experiences of a large cast of characters. Many characters subscribe to a world-view; others want to find a world-view to organize their lives. The absence of a single, triumphant world-view to organize all life is the basic design of Middlemarch. No one occupies the center of the novel as the most important or influential person. Middlemarch social relations are indeed like a web, but the web has no center. Each individual occupies a point in the web, affecting and affected by the other points. Eliot's admirable effort to represent this web in great detail makes her novel epic in length and scope. Unlike in an epic, however, no single point in the web and no single world-view reigns triumphant."

Wanda (wandae) | 65 comments Thank you for the weekly breakdown. I'm really looking forward to this one and I'm so glad it's spread over 2 months.

message 5: by Carol (last edited Apr 29, 2015 12:00PM) (new) - added it

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 116 comments If you are interested reading any of her biographies --

George Eliot Her Life and Books by Gerald Bullett George Eliot: Her Life and Books by Gerald Bullett, 1971, print, 273 pages.
Easy read, a short biography, filled with her personal life.

George Eliot, Voice of a Century A Biography by Frederick R. Karl George Eliot, Voice of a Century: A Biography by Frederick R. Karl, 1995, print, 708 pages.
I've started reading this book. Lots if information, very detailed. Frederick Karl's Eliot proves herself to be one of the most fascinating and iconic individuals of her time. Karl's biography re-creates Eliot's life in London society, and intellectual thought, as well as the world of the gifted. He transforms Eliot herself, taking new names as she self-developed and grew. Karl portrays what life was was like for a woman during that time, and identifies important women's issues.

George Eliot The Last Victorian by Kathryn Hughes George Eliot: The Last Victorian by Kathryn Hughes, 2001, 416 pages. Kindle.
Kathryn Hughes provides a truly nuanced view of Eliot, and is the first to grapple equally with the personal dramas that shaped her personality – particularly her rejection by her brother Isaac – and her social and intellectual context.

George Eliot by Jenny Uglow George Eliot by Jenny Uglow, 2009, print, 352 pages.
Uglow is exceptional in showing the writer at work and her concerns while never relinquishing the flow of the narrative and the focus of her subject. The biographer does not romanticize George Eliot, born Mary Ann Evans, rather often shows how what seemed rationally argued statements were in fact the product of lengthy consideration that emotionally and intellectually exhausted the author of Middlemarch.

message 6: by Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition (last edited May 07, 2015 06:54PM) (new)

Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 504 comments My Life in Middlemarch

Has anyone read this book? It sounds interesting!

My Life in Middlemarch

by Rebecca Mead

A New Yorker writer revisits the seminal book of her youth--Middlemarch--and fashions a singular, involving story of how a passionate attachment to a great work of literature can shape our lives and help us to read our own histories.

Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot's Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel, which Virginia Woolf famously described as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people," offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not.

In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot's masterpiece--the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure--and brings them into our world. Offering both a fascinating reading of Eliot's biography and an exploration of the way aspects of Mead's life uncannily echo that of Eliot herself, My Life in Middlemarch is for every ardent lover of literature who cares about why we read books, and how they read us.

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