“Middlemarch” by George Eliot

I finished Middlemarch by George Eliot, and am feeling very pleased with self. However, what to write about this long, fabulous novel?

One, that several people, including literary nobodies like Virginia Woolf, Martin Amis, and Julian Barnes have said it’s the best novel in the English language. No faint praise, that.

Two, it’s not hard to read. If you’ve read Austen, or Dickens, or the Brontes, then you can read this. While it’s long, it’s split up into manageable chunks of about 100 pages per section.

Three, it’s got fabulous characters. The heroine, Dorothea Brooke, is a young woman who defies the wishes of those about her to marry a scholar in the hopes of learning and helping. As many in this book find out,

a fellow-mortal with whose nature you are acquainted solely through the brief entrances and exits of a few imaginative weeks called courtship, may, when seen in the continuity of married companionship, be disclosed as something better or worse than what you have preconceived, but will certainly not appear altogether the same. (183)

Four, where many books end with marriage, this book delves into married people’s lives and the relationship of marriage.

Five, this is a book not only about people, but also ideas, and art, and philosophy. This novel is full of so much good stuff that I was happy to spend weeks with it, and will happily read it again.

It is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

9 Responses to ““Middlemarch” by George Eliot”

  1. thalia Says:

    I’m glad you loved it, I did too.

  2. Amy Says:

    I’ll happily read it again for all the same reasons, and I thank you for moving it to the top of my TBR pile–who knows how long it would have taken me to get to it otherwise?

  3. V Says:

    I’m glad to hear it was well-received and feeling guilty for not participating this month.

  4. girldetective Says:

    Vince, don’t be ridiculous, you had a second child. That takes precedence. Also, as I told my other book group last night, Middlemarch seems to me more of a Jan/Feb/March book, winter into spring, which is a theme. Not so much in the full-on, full-blown frenzy of blooming spring.

  5. Carol in Oregon Says:

    Middlemarch is one of my favorite books, too. I re-read it about every five years. Some of my favorite quotes live in Middlemarch.

    Have you read other Eliot titles? I would urge you to give Adam Bede a shot.

  6. hopeinbrazil Says:

    You should be pleased with yourself. Middlemarch is not an easy read, but as you noted, the effort is worth it. I’m working my way through Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, but it isn’t giving me nearly as much pleasure as Middlemarch did.

  7. girldetective Says:

    Hope, I was surprised, though, by how accessible it was. It was a long read, but not necessarily a difficult one, as I was so involved with the characters and plots.

  8. Amy Says:

    I’m feeling the urge to add this to my Classics Club list, darn it. And I really want to keep it to a manageable 50 books!

    Middlemarch’s extreme length, with short sections and wonderful characters puts me in mind of War and Peace, and A Suitable Boy, both of which I love.

  9. girldetective Says:

    Amy, I too loved A Suitable Boy. And need to re-read War and Peace. But again, I think that’s a winter book. Yin, vs. Yang.