Saturday, September 19, 2015

149. Middlemarch

Middlemarch
George Eliot
1871
Around 850 pages








I am sorry for the long delay in between posts.  I have recently relocated to London and having been doing my best to take advantage of the city. This, coupled with the fact that this is one of the longest books on the List, meant I definitely have been slowing down on my reading output.  However, I am back now so let's talk about Middlemarch!

Middlemarch tells the story of Dorothea Brooke, who is pretty much our stereotypical saintly, perfect woman.  Dorothea marries Mr. Casaubon, despite the fact that he is "elderly" and a huge bore.  Their marriage turns out to be nothing like what she expected, but she manages to befriend her husband's cousin, Will Ladislaw.  Of course, Dorothea has that condition that many heroines we have come across are afflicted with, where every man that meets her falls in love with her.  Poor thing.  Meanwhile, a young doctor named Mr. Lydgate falls in love with Rosamund Vincy.  She is unbelievably selfish, but since he seemingly only married her for her appearance, he doesn't get a lot of my sympathy.

There are enough side characters and plots in this novel to make Anthony Trollope look like a superficial author.  Most were interesting, some I couldn't have cared less about (Mr. Bulstrode, anyone?).  I love that we are moving away from the idea that a marriage always means a happy ending.  It is fascinating watching the shift from courtship to unequal partnership.

So yes, the length is a bit intimidating. And frankly, I could have gone without about two hundred pages at the beginning of the novel.  I mean, did we really have to hear about Dorothea's plan for improving the cottages of tenant farmers?  I suppose it was included to promote her status as a goddess among women.  Still, I loved this book and was quite disappointed when it was over.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Praised by Virginia Woolf and Emily Dickinson, but criticized by Henry James, who claimed that the character of Will Ladislaw is the greatest failure of the novel.

UP NEXT: Spring Torrents by Ivan Turgenev.  The Book is absolutely obsessed with this guy.

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