Middlemarch by George Eliot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have ridden the mighty moon worm!*
Well, no, but I did finally finish Middlemarch. I've been reading this book since January. I thought I would breeze right through it, but it turned out to be 800 dense pages of characterization of virtually every person in the fictional Midlands English town of Middlemarch. It centers mainly on two marriages: the marriage of young, idealistic Dorothea Brooke to the older, bachelor scholar Edward Casaubon, and the marriage of spoiled "princess" Rosamond Vincy to a newcomer to Middlemarch, the physician-scientist Tertius Lydgate. Rosamond's brother, Fred Vincy, wants to marry the sweet-natured Mary Garth, but encounters many obstacles in the course of that courtship.
Edward Casaubon is described as looking like the philosopher John Locke.
|Public domain image|
|Creative Commons image|
I can't exactly say why, but I keep picturing Will Ladislaw as Ben Whishaw.
|Creative Commons image by KikeValencia|
This isn't an exciting classic, like The Count of Monte Cristo or Gone With the Wind, but it is an interesting book. I read it because my copy of Jane Eyre said that if I liked that book I might also like this one. I LOVED Jane Eyre. I must point out, though, that there aren't a lot of obvious similarities. Both deal with class differences and the shifting position of women in society, though.
Middlemarch isn't nearly as romantic as Jane Eyre, nor is it as witty as anything Jane Austen ever wrote. I said before (in this post) that I thought George Eliot was a contemporary of Austen and the Bronte sisters, but this wasn't accurate. George Eliot was born (as Mary Anne Evans) in 1819, and Middlemarch was published in installments between 1871 and 1872. Jane Austen died in 1817, two years before Evans was born. Emily Bronte's short life spanned 1818-1848, and her sister Charlotte lived 1816-1855. Jane Eyre was published in 1847. Charlotte Bronte came the closest to being Evans' contemporary, but she died relatively young and published her most famous work long before Middlemarch debuted.
George Eliot is more cerebral and philosophical than her Regency-era predecessor Jane Austen, and the pleasure of reading her is a more subtle one than the emotional Romantic-era drama of the Brontes. However, I was not unsatisfied with the ending, and I'm glad I had the patience to finish all 800+ pages.
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I bought this paperback at Barnes and Noble and was not obligated to review it in any way.
*Nerdy-ass Futurama reference. Sorry.