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I absolutely hated Middlemarch when I first read it for an open uni course. But when I read the course materials about it and got to grips with Eliot's method it really came alive for me. It's probably now one of my favourites.

 

I hope to read more of her work in future.

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If you would like to read more on Middlemarch, Eliot and the characters, check out Shmoop. It’s full of great reference material and interesting opinions on the novel.

I just had a look at Shmoop - what a great site! Really accessible study notes for my students (I'm an English teacher) - great chatty style which is very readable, but also thorough and academic. Just like my lessons, obviously! ;)

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George Eliot - Middlemarch - 1871-72I like George Eliot's novels. Middlemarch is probably my favourite. I love Dorothea Brooke, the main character. There is so much she has to deal with. She could have been a great woman at our time (as the author) with the possibilities we have today but had to fight all her life to be heard. I agree with the description above, almost every subject is touched, medical reform, industrialisation, religious thinking, women's rights, a great description of the change of society from the old times to our modern world. A great read!

(thread first started 02.04.06)

Bored the pants off me, I'm afraid. I had to read it for an Open University course, otherwise I'd've probably given up on it. Pity, because I adored 'Silas Marner', the only other Eliot novel I've read. I therefore don't know what to make of her. I'll have to try 'The Mill on the Floss' as a decider (best out of three, and all that), because I've also got that on my shelves.

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I am currently working my way through the BBC TV series of Middlemarch on DVD from the library, and am really enjoying it.
It's great, isn't it, Lady L? Rufus Sewell was the perfect choice for Will and Juliet Aubrey makes a wonderful Dorothea. I wonder which actor and actress will play them in the film that's due to be made. I hope Ms Knightley isn't involved.

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It's great, isn't it, Lady L? Rufus Sewell was the perfect choice for Will and Juliet Aubrey makes a wonderful Dorothea. I wonder which actor and actress will play them in the film that's due to be made. I hope Ms Knightley isn't involved.
You are so right, that series had a great cast. It's always hard to accept new faces if you loved the old ones. And I agree, I don't see Ms. Knightley in either of the roles either but wouldn't be surprised if they chose her.

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megustaleer 2nd April 2006 05:27 PM

This is one of the books I 'acquired' yesterday, but don't expect me to post about it any time soon! :rolleyes:

So, here we go,more than seven years later....

 

And even now I haven't read the book referred to, but borrowed it as an audiobook from the library to keep my mind occupied while I got on with preparations for, and clearing up after, last Christmas.

I came to Middlemarch after several visits to Barsetshire during 2012, so felt quite at home in a C19 setting. The inhabitants of Middlemarch may not be as comical as  those Trollope wrote about, but the trials and tribulations that each author inflicts upon a huge cast of characters are universal. Times may change, but people still have problems - financial, romantic, political, moral and more.

 

Hazel's comments about the various Middlemarch characters, in the restored thread above, sum up my own fairly accurately, so I won't repeat them.

 

The film she refers to is still "in production", and if Kate Winslet was too old to play Dorothea then, she has no chance now. I guess  all the previous speculation here over casting needs to be reconsidered.

 

I doubt that I will go to see it, if it's ever finished, for the reasons others have said - it can't possibly deal with all the plots and sub-plots, and I can't say I'd want to see the book so severely butchered. I enjoyed it too much for that.

 

 

 

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I started to read this book a couple of days ago and according to my Kindle am now 13% of the way through. As, when reading previous novels with existing threads, I have not read any of the previous comments yet as I do not wish to be influenced by the thoughts of others while actually reading the book but look forward to reading the past posts of others when finished. As it is such a huge novel I will post comments as I go along as I find this easier than dealing with the whole at the end!

 

Having read Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskel and The Barchester Chronicles by Anthony Trollope earlier this year I felt sure before I started that I was going to enjoy this book. As with the other seven novels Middlemarch tells the stories of a number of members of a country community. As would be expected of a novel of this age the writing style is a little rambling in places but fairly easy to get on with. At times when I have been reading novels by Dickens, for instance, he has rambled to such an extent that I have struggled at times to follow the story! This has not been the case so far with Middlemarch thank goodness.

 

The book opens with the Brookes sisters and the suitors of Dorothea, the eldest of the two girls. Dorothea is considered to be a "clever girl" and is admired throughout the county. It is very soon gleaned by the reader that Celia, the younger of the sisters, has much more sound common sense than her sister who really does take herself far too seriously. Celia is a character the reader can take to whereas Dorothea I for one just wanted to shake!

 

Dorothea is now married and we assume on her wedding trip and we have moved on to the Vincy family. The father has recently been made Mayor. He comes of a family of manufacturers of longstanding in the area and is considered to be of some substance if not of real breeding. We have been introduced to Rosamund and Fred, the eldest of the children and soon realise that the offspring of this family are very different to those of the Brookes family. Fred seems to be a charming cad while his sister is more interested in finery and her own entertainment than any furthering of her education. Already the reader is beginning to experience the power struggles and gentle fights for money and position that take place in the community of Middlemarch. Although they may be far less worthy the Vincy children are far more palatable then Dorothea at least although I suspect as the book moves on this will not remain the case. The small world of Middlemarch is beginning to unfold for me now and I am really beginning to enjoy it!

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If you have to write a particular novel in order to write a critique of it frankly virtually the entire membership of this group is in serious trouble!

 

There is in fact a saying that those who didn't qualify as authors become critics.

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I am about a 5th of the way through this book now and am beginning to really love it. As with other writers such as Austen and Trollope I love the development of each character. It is as if Eliot wanted to "drip-feed" the reader with knowledge concerning each character, letting the opinions of the reader change bit by bit. Even at his stage my feelings towards certain of the characters are changing! For instance, when Fred Vincy first appeared I viewed him as a bit of a charming waster intent on gaining the fortune of his elderly uncle Mr Featherstone. Although my overall thoughts of him have not completely changed it is beginning to appear to the reader that there may well be a bit more to him than that. I am beginning to hope that a better man may be fighting to find a way out.

 

It is this slow development of each character and the real insights revealed of human nature as a whole that holds the attention. I have just read a chapter describing the past life of Mr Lydgate, a new and young practising doctor in the area of Middlemarch. At the end of the chapter Eliot states that no matter how little is known of the mans past life or the experiences that have made him the man he is members of the community will have decided how they can fit him into their lives and adapt him to their needs regardless of his thoughts or feelings on the subject. This really reminds me of the beginning of Pride and Predjudice when it is decided that any rich young man moving into the area must be in need of a wife! The observations made of human nature throughout books such as these keep me smiling throughout.

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The more I read of this book the more addicted I become. Although one overall story there are a number of individual stories that make up the whole and the reader is shuffled between stories as the book progresses. As this is a community based tale, like Cranford and The Barchester Chronicles, this is pretty much what I expected. As the story continues I find myself being drawn to some of the characters in particular and am beginning to care for the outcome of their stories. Mary Garth is becoming a real favourite and I am beginning to wonder if she will prove to be the real heroine of the story. Dorothea is improving and I now pity her rather than want to shake her as I did at the beginning of the book. I think that she did genuinely want to live a useful life, just went about it in the wrong way and made an unhappy marriage. Although she is now beginning to realise her mistake she is still trying to be a supportive wife.

 

The lead up to the death of old Mr Featherstone and the behaviour of his family, trying to ingratiate themselves in the hope of inheriting, made me smile. As Eliot states, it is quite amazing the way that human nature works. Hopeful members of his family criticise their siblings, neices and nephews for their obvious grasping behaviour but fail to acknowledge to themselves that they are acting in the same way. Mr Featherstone himself really is a miserly old man glorifying in the power that he has over other people because of his money. With the strict directions for his funeral that he has left he even manages to control other members of his family from the grave. The only member who will not be controled and acts as she thinks she should is Mary Grath and I suspect that she will lose out because of her honourable behaviour. At the moment I hope that things will come good for Mary in the end.

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I am about two thirds of my way through this epic novel now and my opinions of the book are changing from chapter to chapter. At the beginning of the book I compared it with books such as Cranford and the Barchester Chronicles. Although there are similarities with these novels as Middlemarch is unfolding it seems to have more serious aspects. Both Cranford and The Barchester Chronicles, although touching and sometimes almost heart breaking in places, were quite gentle observations of human nature and often carried with them an air of mild comedy. I feel that Middlemarch reveals some of the darker sides of human nature such as the manipulation of others.

 

We are back with Dorothea at the moment and any desire on my part to shake her have completely fled. I now believe her to be a truly kind loving women probably born ahead of her time. Even at the beginning of the novel she seemed to have a real desire to be of use and to improve the lot of those much worse off than herself. Her biggest problem was her naivety and lack of any proper role model or guidance. Her uncle is a very weak man who, as much as he loves his two neices, thinks mainly of himself. He has a very high opinion of himself and seems to be guided more by his own wants and desires than by any more honourable thoughts. Unfortunately, because of her kind heart and desire to please so far Dorothea has proved to be all to easy to manipulate. In some ways she is beginning to remind me more of Thomas Hardy's Tess than any of the characters in the other novels I have compared Middlemarch with so far. I only hope that as she is a far more educated and thoughtful women than Tess, who really was quite a simple character, that Dorothea will fare better than poor Tess. She certainly is a character that grows on the reader.

 

One of the real joys of Middlemarch is the development of the main characters. As the various stories continue my views of many of the characters are changing considerably and I find that my thoughts regarding the possible "goodies and badies" are changing. I have no idea where many of the stories will end and at the moment find myself having as many premonitions of tradgedy as I do of happy endings.

Edited by cherrypie

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According to my Kindle I have 10% of this book still to read! Although I wonder what will become of many of the characters portrayed in this book I am not looking forward to coming to the end as I have come to love many of those characters. There are many stories within this book which make up the whole and I can only marvel at an imagination capable of producing a story of so many layers. Like with many novels written by Dickens each story seems to have some reference to the main and the ripples caused by one persons action have an affect on so many. This book really brings home to the reader how just one act can alter the course of so many lives as well as the persons own and how one choice can alter a persons own life for ever. In the case of Lydgate he finds himself becoming someone he never espected to be and no matter how he tries he cannot stop flow.

 

As the book has progressed any element of mild humour has fled. At the beginning of the book I found myself smiling at some of the oddities of human nature portrayed but now that I am reaching the end I find myself aching a little for the damage we are capable of inflicting on ourselves and others often with no intention to do so.

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I was made to read this for A level, and was not looking forward to after being subjected to Silas Marner at far too young an age. I was hooked after the first page, though, and think it is a contender for finest British novel of all time. Three times completed and counting...

Edited by brightphoebus

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I was made to read this for A level, and was not looking forward to after being subjected to Silas Marner at far to young an age. I was hooked after the first page, though, and think it is a contender for finest British novel of all time. Three times completed and counting...

I have very nearly finished now and think that I am going to be agreeing with you. Already wondering how long to leave it before reading again! Probably one of the my favourite books.

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I finished this book this morning and was truly sorry to do so. Probably one of the best books I have ever read. I loved the way in which Eliot finished the book. As she herself said in the novel, it can be hard for the reader to leave a set of characters when they are still young and she actually gives us a little potted history of the lives of the three main couples concerned in this novel. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have finished a book and tried to imagine the future of favourite characters. With this book I did not have to do this.

 

I have enjoyed reading the previous comments regarding this book and, although I am sure that some aspects of the book have past me by, as I found many of the comments echoing my own thoughts I am sure that I have gained enough from the book to do it justice. I will certainly be attempting more of the novels of George Eliot in the future. Just like Dorothea, the main character of the novel, I am sure that Eliot was a women born ahead of her time making the novel even more of a masterpiece. I doubt I will read a better novel this year.

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I have purposely not looked at any critiques of this novel on this site before trying now to put my own thoughts down. 

 

I took it off from my upstairs bookshelf (one of my shelves for previously read 'good' books)..

 

And as I read it got me wondering if I had really properly 'read'  it before or had I, being young then, never quite got past Dorothea's marriage to the dreadful Casaubon: work and a young family then having had a lot of demands on my time.  A BBC serialisation then filled up some gaps.

 

Cutting to the chase now:  what a fine engrossing novel this is combining  personal stories with early mid-19th century political and social background - Reform Act, coming of railways, agricultural improvements etc.  Dorothea is magnificent  of course.  ( I kept thinking how a modern novelist would write, for example, about her honeymoon leaving us in no doubt about the lack of sex, tacky by comparison, )  The hypocrises of the time are finely conveyed through the mouths of the various 'worthy' citizens  but in a more nuanced way than in Dickens.  I must confess to almost hating Rosamond, loving the Garth family,  feeling sorry for Lydgate, and just feeling involved in the various lives portrayed.  There are the occasional longeurs but you sort of expect that in an 800 page Victorian novel.

 

Tremendous.

 

(this afternoon I'll catch up on the previous posts)

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Having read your critique Chuntzy, I'm wondering whether I am guilty of not really reading this novel as it deserves.  I may have to go back to it again myself.  Thank you for your comments.

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