Classics and the Western Canon discussion

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Discussion - Middlemarch > Reading Schedule

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message 1: by Everyman (last edited Apr 04, 2010 03:07PM) (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments .


Prelude and Book 1: March 17 - 27
Book 2: March 28-April 6
Book 3: April 7 - April 13
Book 4: April 14 - April 20
Book 5: April 21 - April 27
Book 6: April 28 - May 4
Book 7: May 5 - May 11
Book 8: May 12 - May 18

See the next post for thoughts on a reading schedule relative to how Victorians read the book


message 2: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments How Victorians Read Middlemarch

Middlemarch was intended to be a four-volume, rather than the usual Victorian three-volume, work. However, rather than being published at one time, as modern novels are, it was published serially, in eight half-volume sections (which is where the division in to 8 books comes from).

The first half-volume (Book 1) was published on December 1, 1871. The next five volumes (Books 2-6) were published at two-monthly intervals (Feb, Apr, Jun, Aug, Oct 1872). The final two volumes were published at monthly intervals, in November and December, so that the complete book could be printed and sold in time for the Christmas, 1872 season.

Serial publication was common for Victorian novels. Dickens and Wilkie Collins are perhaps the most famous of many serial Victorian novelists. Eliot had published her Clerical Sketches and her second novel, Romola, serially, though Adam Bede, her first novel, was not published serially.

However, Middlemarch was quite different from most serial novels. First, most serializations came out either weekly or monthly, and in many more than eight parts. For example, The Woman in White came out in 40 weekly parts; Bleak House in 19 monthly parts. Second, almost all serializations were published in magazines, while Middlemarch was published in stand-alone volumes. Third, most serializations tended to end each section as much as possible with “cliffhangers” to entice people to buy next week’s or month’s edition of the magazine. As we will see, Eliot mostly didn’t use cliffhangers or deliberately leave the reader up in the air, but each book (with one exception, as we’ll see, when she moved a chapter from the start of one book to the end of the previous book to better even out the number of pages per book) tends to end at a natural stopping point.

The two month interval gave readers much more time than usual to absorb the book, re-read if they wanted to, and engage in slow and thoughtful discussion of the book over dinners and literary salons.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I've always wondered about these serializations. Do you --or anyone-- happen to know if the books were typically completed and then released piecemeal? Or were they written on deadline over the course of the run?

The former seems more appropriate to a serious work of art; the latter more suited to maximizing sales by following the reading public's interests instead of guiding them.


message 4: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Middlemarch, and I understand much of Dickens's work, was written over the course of the run. I think this was typical.


message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments It looks as though people are not using the longer discussion period -- ten days instead of one week for Book 1 -- to keep the discussion flowing actively. I'll keep the schedule as published for Book 2, but unless I hear from people that they want to keep the longer book periods for the rest of Middlemarch, I'll go back to the one-book-per-week schedule for the rest of the book.


message 6: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments ok, so I guess I am on schedule. I thought some of the discussion was going over my head about things I hadn't read yet...so far the book is holding my interest. I am going to post a bit from Tolstoy's War and Peace though to contrast something you said in another post Everyman.

By the way, thanks again for leading this group :)


message 7: by Frances (new)

Frances | 36 comments Almost done with Book 7. I must say it'd probably be good to speed up the schedule a bit as it's really hard to remember what happened in which book, and I have enough genetic guilt in me without worrying about spoilers!


message 8: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Frances wrote: "Almost done with Book 7. I must say it'd probably be good to speed up the schedule a bit as it's really hard to remember what happened in which book, and I have enough genetic guilt in me without w..."

Since nobody has encouraged a slower schedule, I'll go with one book a week for the rest of the book.

If you don't tell anybody else, just keep it between us, I'll suggest that once you've read the book but are trying to remember which incidents happened in which books, the Sparknotes site is a pretty good way to check. They have summaries of each book that remind you which events happened when. It's no substitute for reading the book, of course, but it helps avoid spoilers. I've read the book several times, and re-read it all again in February preparing for this discussion, but I agree, sometimes it's hard to remember which events happened where, so at the start of each week, if I don't have time to re-read that book I usually go to the summaries to skim them to remind myself which events we're talking about this week. That plus skimming the book to check my notes of particular passages I marked for discussion helps.

But be sure to keep this a secret between us and don't go spreading it around, okay?

:)


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmmmmmmm....


message 10: by Frances (new)

Frances | 36 comments Everyman wrote: But be sure to keep this a secret between us and don't go spreading it around, okay? "

Fair enough! Thanks!


message 11: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments I'm loving book 3 but I guess I am not supposed to talk about it until tomorrow...


message 12: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Dianna wrote: "I'm loving book 3 but I guess I am not supposed to talk about it until tomorrow..."

Tomorrow is coming soon! Actually, I usually post the next book on Tuesday evening, if I remember, which after all is Wednesday for our British members.


message 13: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments haha so can I pretend I am British and talk about it tonight?


message 14: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Dianna wrote: "haha so can I pretend I am British and talk about it tonight?"

As soon as the topic for Book 3 is posted you're welcome to start right in.


message 15: by Julie (new)

Julie (piex3) over a year later I find this discussion. Started on the 17 and I'm going to follow this reading schedule as it seems manageable, as I like to take the time to read classics, they deserve it. Can't wait to get through it.


message 16: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments pietimesthree wrote: "over a year later I find this discussion. Started on the 17 and I'm going to follow this reading schedule as it seems manageable, as I like to take the time to read classics, they deserve it. Can't..."

You may find some of the comments here interesting as you work through it.


message 17: by Julie (new)

Julie (piex3) I picked up in a rush to a buy a book at the book store, one on my list that is, and was limited because I only like certain publishers...

I have read through the first 50 pages or so, and am enjoying myself... Didn't realize this was a big read though...Hopefully I can stick with it.


message 18: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments pietimesthree wrote: "I have read through the first 50 pages or so, and am enjoying myself... Didn't realize this was a big read though...Hopefully I can stick with it. "

There are some parts that may seem to drag on the first read through if you aren't on top of what she's trying to do, but definitely stick with it.


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