Classics and the Western Canon discussion

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Online Texts

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/145
The Gutenberg text page. A basic text of the whole work that can be downloaded in HTML or text format, which makes it possible to search the whole book at one time.

http://www.princeton.edu/~batke/eliot...
A basic text, going chapter by chapter. Doesn’t look like much, but has a quite useful search feature – search on a term and it will very quickly bring up every place in the novel where the term appears with the context, and a click will take you to the full text. Very useful.

http://www.online-literature.com/geor...
An acceptable text, with a few questions mostly by students wanting help with homework. Reads chapter by chapter, so you can only search the chapter you’re in, not a whole book at a time.

http://www.bibliomania.com/0/0/21/198...
A plain Jane vanilla text, but with strange page breaks which makes it hard to search.

And one more:
http://www.readprint.com/work-643/Mid...




Books:

For those who want background information, there are a huge number of books on George Eliot and her times generally and Middlemarch in particular. I include only ones I know and think are worth mentioning. In offering this list, I’m very aware of the danger of getting too tied up in secondary sources at the expense of a primary focus on the book itself.

The standard biography of George Eliot is by Gordon Haight, simply titled George Eliot: A Biography. Haight is one of the pre-eminent Eliot scholars, having previously written George Eliot and John Chapman and edited the seven volume The George Eliot Letters. He has also written well regarded introductions to several of Eliot’s novels.

The Oxford Reader’s Companion to George Eliot is a one volume encyclopedia-style coverage of almost any topic you would like to know about George Eliot. Useful for looking things up, it goes into reasonable but not exhaustive depth about major topics.

The Cambridge Companion to George Eliot takes a completely different approach. It is a collection of twelve “specially commissioned essays” dealing with such topics as “George Eliot and philosophy,” “George Eliot and politics,” “George Eliot and her publishers,” and other major topics. Some of the essays are very rewarding reading, but it’s hard to use for reference purposes.

The Landmarks of World Literature series has a volume on Middlemarch by Karen Chase. This fairly short (100 page) book is a sort of academic level Cliff Notes, or perhaps a very long introduction to an edition of Middlemarch. It has a summary of the plot, a chronology of Eliot and her times, and a useful but somewhat limited discussion of various aspects of the novel. Two things it lacks are a genealogy chart and a centralized discussion of the characters, though various main characters are discussed in what Chase considers appropriate places; Farebrother, for example, is discussed briefly in a section on “religion and science.” It also lacks an index, which I find a major shortcoming since it makes it very difficult to find references to characters or points one is interested in getting some insight about.

Several useful books covering the Victorian age and writing more generally include Louis James The Victorian Novel, and Richard Altick Victorian People and Ideas (a very nice discussion of various aspects of life in the Victorian age, or, as Altick points out, the Victorian ages, since England went through several stages during Victoria’s lifetime, the England of 1837 being very different in style, philosophy, society, etc. from the England of 1901). Sally Mitchell’s Daily Life in Victorian England has some strong points, but I don’t find it as useful as Altick. Daniel Pool’s What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew is fun to read and has a very helpful glossary, but is not as careful as perhaps it should be about the differences between Austen’s and Dickens’s times.

This is only a very brief offering. There are many other books available, and I invite people to suggest ones they have found particularly useful.



Internet Resources:



The Victorian Web
http://www.victorianweb.org/index.html
has a great deal of information on various topics of interest for Victorian novel readers. From the home page you can easily navigate to Eliot’s page, and from there to various sections on biography, social history, and an extensive amount of other information that can keep you occupied for weeks, if not more. I have found most of the information and discussion I have read on this site to be intelligent and accurate, though there are, not surprisingly for the Internet, some flaws.

Several posters have already posted interesting links.

Laura posted some historical background on the Reform Act:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reform_A...

Selina posted this link to a relationship map, but it will be a major spoiler for those who haven’t read the book
http://www.librarything.com/topic/362...

Laurel posted this character list which is largely, though not totally, free of spoilers. Avoid the links until you’re done the book, since they do have major spoilers.
http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~bump/E388...


http://tinyurl.com/yhjgkem is a somewhat strange site I ran across which has a timeline of events in Eliot’s life along with a variety of sometimes mysterious links, such as this link http://www.rbc.com/responsibility/let... – search for Middlemarch to find the referral. (It’s not a spoiler.)


The Wikipedia entry on Middlemarch http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middlemarch is fairly basic, but informative. WARNING: it discusses the plot, themes, and characters, which will be major spoilers for those who haven’t read the book. Those who don’t like spoilers should avoid this entry until then have finished the book; at that point, it may be useful for review or to notice points that may have been missed in the reading.

There are gobs of other useful sites; post what you find most useful, ideally with a brief comment about what you found most interesting or useful about it.


message 2: by MadgeUK (last edited Mar 17, 2010 12:09PM) (new)

MadgeUK There are several Youtube video clips of the BBC 1994 production of Middlemarch here which are good for showing contemporary costumes and surroundings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3IHfX...

It was filmed in the old market town of Stamford in Lincolnshire as the Coventry (Warwickshire) area is now a modern industrial town.

I particularly liked Robert Hardy's portrayal of Mr Brooke and still have him in my mind's eye as I reread the novel.

GE was born on the estate of Arbury Hall, Nuneaton, Warwickshire and later lived at nearby Griff House, the fictional Dorlcote Mill, which is now a pub:-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/coventry/feature...

Henry James wrote of George Eliot, whose work he admired:-

'She had a low forehead, a dull grey eye, a huge mouth full of uneven teeth and a chin and jawbone 'qui n'en finissent pas'...Now in this vast ugliness resides the most powerful beauty which, in a very few minutes, steals forth and charms the mind, so that you end, as I ended, falling in love with her. Yes, behold me in love with this great horse faced bluestocking.'

http://womenshistory.about.com/librar...


message 3: by Tom (new)

Tom  | 8 comments A word of warning:
I glanced briefly at the relationship map on librarything and discovered a MAJOR spoiler. It seems like something that won't be revealed until the end of the novel.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

MadgeUK: Henry James wrote of George Eliot, whose work he admired:-

'She had a low forehead, a dull grey eye, a huge mouth full of uneven teeth and a chin and jawbone 'qui n'en finissent pas'...Now in this vast ugliness resides the most powerful beauty which, in a very few minutes, steals forth and charms the mind, so that you end, as I ended, falling in love with her. Yes, behold me in love with this great horse faced bluestocking.'


Wow. There's a description that speaks volumes!


message 5: by Laura (new)

Laura Does someone know this resource?

Google Lit Trip


message 6: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Laura wrote: "Does someone know this resource?

Google Lit Trip"


Yes! I used it while I was reading The Odyssey.


message 7: by Laura (new)

Laura could you tell me a little more about this project Laurele? I just wrote to them but the answer will come within 3-5 days.


message 8: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Laura wrote: "could you tell me a little more about this project Laurele? I just wrote to them but the answer will come within 3-5 days."

The one I used set up on Google Earth all the possible places along Odysseus's travels. I think individuals and classes can create maps to go with a book and what they do becomes available to anyone. I haven't done the creative part, so that's all I know. You would have to have Google Earth (free) downloaded to your computer.


message 9: by Laura (new)

Laura thanks Laurele, I offered to be a volunteer in this project which seems to be quite interesting.


message 10: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Laura wrote: "thanks Laurele, I offered to be a volunteer in this project which seems to be quite interesting."

What book would you want to do? Middlemarch doesn't have that much travel in it, so it wouldn't be very exciting on the maps.

I once found a nice site for Dickens that did the same sort of thing for his books, but if I bookmarked it I can't find it at the moment.

But here's another somewhat similar site, not by book but by location. It identifies many real locations that are referenced in books. Not all that useful, since I can't find a way to isolate the sites for a single book, but fun anyhow. Enlarge the map and click on the red marks for more detail on those countries or cities.
http://www.atlasoffiction.com/map.htm...


message 11: by Laura (new)

Laura I wasn't thinking in any particular book Everyman. It's the project itself which makes me interested and make me wonder in how you could contribute to it.


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