Author: George Eliot
Publisher: Wordsworth Classics (2000)
Pages: 776 pages
First published: 1872
Literary Awards: -
'We believe in her as in a woman we might providentially meet some fine day when we should find ourselves doubting of the immortality of the soul'
wrote Henry James of Dorothea Brooke, who shares with the young doctor Tertius Lydgate not only a central role in Middlemarch but also a fervent conviction that life should be heroic.
By the time the novel appeared to tremendous popular and critical acclaim in 1871-2, George Eliot was recognized as England's finest living novelist. It was her ambition to create a world and portray a whole community--tradespeople, middle classes, country gentry--in the rising provincial town of Middlemarch, circa 1830. Vast and crowded, rich in narrative irony and suspense, Middlemarch is richer still in character, in its sense of how individual destinies are shaped by and shape the community, and in the great art that enlarges the reader's sympathy and imagination. It is truly, as Virginia Woolf famously remarked, 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people'.
I finally read it. REALLY READ IT!! No wonder this book is called a giant within classic lit, and not only by its size, but also the scope of the stories.... It has everything, from romance to politics, from history to (their) progress and future predictions, from feminine activist to puritans point of view. And thus, Miss Eliot took them all, put a lot of twists on them and presented on silver tray for generations to enjoy.
After done reading it, I just realise how similar this novel with JKR's The Casual Vacancy is. The town of Pagford is a new Middlemarch, with all its accidental-infamous characters. No lead actor, just web of peoples interaction and affect each others' life, with abundant amount of gossips and noosey people... hypocrite or not.
Read also: My Sidenotes as I read this novel
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; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our hurts— not to hurt others.
Middlemarch was a name of a small town in England and the setting was around 1829s. The novel had another title, or subtitle, which was A Study of Provincial Life, which was accurate, because that what it was... a novel about lifes of people in a small town. Of course there are some people that get more attentions, like Ms. Dorothea Brooke, Ms. Rosamund Vincy, Ms. Mary Garth, Mr. Tertius Lydgate, Mr. Will Ladislaw, Mr. Casaubon, Mr. Bullstrode, to name just a few. All of them and many more, plus a omniscient narator made Middlemarch a story about human experience, self fulfilment, religious elements and hyprocricy. There was no villain nor a hero, all of them all villain and hero in one time or another. There are marriages stories (because we actually NOT "live hapily ever after" after the wedding), there are stories about finding your place in society, there are dreams (shatered and built), plus some English-history lesson of land reform and aristocracy fallen down.
Yes, Middlemarch had them all.... but in the end, I thought of it as a woman perspective when seeing changes and opportunity. Eliot may used a man's name while publishing this novel, but it feminine point of view (like when she idealistic the character of Dorothea or Mary, while writing a worthless beauty of Rosamund) was felt through and through.
What I loved the most about this book was how the women react when facing a terrible situation in the climax of the book, the dead of Raffles the blackmailer, with both Bullstrode and Lydgate as suspects. First, of course, there was Harriet Bullstrode. She was one annoying noosey old lady, with upright position. But all my respect goes to her, when she stands by her husband, trust him no matter what, and support him through this hard time. In the contrast was Rosamund Lydgate. She completely didn't care of her husband position, did not offer a nice words or even say she trust him. The first thing came into her mind was how her social status would affected by this incident. Blaaaahh!!
Dorothea, in the other side, trust Lydgate since the first time she heard about it. She even supported him anyway she could, and that made Lydgate breath easier since. If I could be so bold to say, Lydgate should've been married to Dorothea. His idealistic vision of a hospital and helping people would have met Dorothea's saint point of view. He could be a best doctor with a good wife's behind him... yeah... but they met in the wrong time. *sigh*
So, in the end, some love wins (Fred and Mary, Will and Dorothea) some marriage works (Sir James and Celia, the Bullstrodes), and some marriage are definetly doomed since the beginning (Casaubon and Dorothea, Lydgate and Rosamund). But lives goes on.... All the good deeds and bad karmas have long shadows that follow you wherever you go. And karma trully a bi**h, for she asked for repayment on worst times... but a bit of good deeds also bring a wholly amount of happiness when you thought all hopes are gone.
I also admired the most was this novel was about second chances too. People made mistakes, but what about attonement? Well, in short, this quote said it all....
"Character is not cut in marble - it is not something solid and unalterable. It is something living and changing, and may become diseased as our bodies do."
"Then it may be rescued and healed."(A quote from Farebrother when hearing about Lydgate's part of Raffles affair, but Dorothea stated she still trust Lydgate and wanted to give him a second change)
LOVE IT. Priviledge to read it. So glad I finally finished it *and re-read it again*.
Thank you Bzee for challenged me to read this book. I've done it!!
*proud of myself*
About the Writer:
George Eliot was a pen name of Mary Ann Evans (22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880). She was English novelist, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She is the author of seven novels, including Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871–72), and Daniel Deronda (1876), most of them set in provincial England and known for their realism and psychological insight.
She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure her works would be taken seriously. Female authors were published under their own names during Eliot's life, but she wanted to escape the stereotype of women only writing lighthearted romances. She also wished to have her fiction judged separately from her already extensive and widely known work as an editor and critic. An additional factor in her use of a pen name may have been a desire to shield her private life from public scrutiny and to prevent scandals attending her relationship with the married George Henry Lewes, with whom she lived for over 20 years.
Middlemarch was considered as the greatest novel in the English language. It first published in eight instalments (volumes) during 1871–2. Instead publishing it in standar three books, mostly because of the thickness, it was published in four books, each contains 9-14 chapters each from the serialisation, and every two months between parts.