Middlemarch

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Middlemarch

by George Eliot

January 1, 1998 | Trade Paperback

Middlemarch is rated 4 out of 5 by 1.
George Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans on a Warwickshire farm in England, where she spent almost all of her early life. She received a modest local education and was particularly influenced by one of her teachers, an extremely religious woman whom the novelist would later use as a model for various characters. Eliot read extensively, and was particularly drawn to the romantic poets and German literature. In 1849, after the death of her father, she went to London and became assistant editor of the Westminster Review, a radical magazine. She soon began publishing sketches of country life in London magazines. At about his time Eliot began her lifelong relationship with George Henry Lewes. A married man, Lewes could not marry Eliot, but they lived together until Lewes's death. Eliot's sketches were well received, and soon after she followed with her first novel, Adam Bede (1859). She took the pen name "George Eliot" because she believed the public would take a male author more seriously. Like all of Eliot's best work, The Mill on the Floss (1860), is based in large part on her own life and her relationship with her brother. In it she begins to explore male-female relations and the way people's personalities determine their relationships with others. She returns to this theme in Silas Mariner (1861), in which she examines the changes brought about in life and personality of a miser through the love of a little girl. In 1863, Eliot published Romola. Set against the political intrigue of Florence, Italy, of the 1490's, the book chronicles the spiritual journey of a passionate young woman. Eliot's greatest achievement is almost certainly Middlemarch (1871). Here she paints her most detailed picture of English country life, and explores most deeply the frustrations of an intelligent woman with no outlet for her aspirations. This novel is now regarded as one of the major works of the Victorian era and one of the greatest works of fiction in English. Eliot's last work was Daniel Deronda. In that work, Daniel, the adopted son of an aristocratic Englishman, gradually becomes interested in Jewish culture and then discovers his own Jewish heritage. He eventually goes to live in Palestine. Because of the way in which she explored character and extended the range of subject matter to include simple country life, Eliot is now considered to be a major figure in the development of the novel.

Format: Trade Paperback

Published: January 1, 1998

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 3895082600

ISBN - 13: 9783895082603

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Middlemarch: A Stacked Deck For those who come to MIDDLEMARCH for the first time and wonder what to make up the more than 900 pages of text, they might look at the clue that George Eliot provides both in the subtitle "A Study of Provincial Life" and in her Prelude. The former suggests indeed a study of life within the narrow confines of middle class life in England before the passage of the Reform Bill of 1832, yet the massive weight of the text implies that it will be a telescoped examination of that life. It is almost as if Eliot wished to place Middlemarch on a microscopic slide and then blow up the image to fit an IMAX screen, from which the reader could see, hear, and feel the images jump off the pages in unforgettably realistic power. In her Prelude, Eliot writes of a hypothetical woman that prefigures Dorothea Brooke: "Many Theresas have been born who found for themselves no epic life wherein there was a constant unfolding of far-resonant action; perhaps only a life of mistakes, the offspring of a certain spiritual grandeur ill-matched with the meanness of opportunity." Such a "life of mistakes" of the book's major and minor characters when combined with the epic sweep vision of a small slice of English society produce the book's essential theme: no one in the book is meant to be seen as heroic or even tragic because Eliot's deterministic philosophy does not allow them to overcome the stifling hand of a vision of life that hints at only the wispy illusion of success but delivers only the inevitability of failure. In such a climate, neither heroes nor tragic figures can thrive. Part of the reason that readers have trouble keeping straight the huge cast of characters is due to Eliot's original means of publishing. MIDDLEMARCH did not start out as a fully-conceived nor finished product. Eliot had planned to write a series of connected novels, beginning with Dorothea Brooke, but after simultaneously writing two of them, she saw that their tightly interlocking themes would complement one another if they were presented as a continuous whole, so she began to publish them as a serial. She was quite successful, so much so that her publisher reminded her that in order not to let her panting public forget who was who, she had to include--or at least mention--each character on a regular basis. Eliot divides the book into four storylines. The first deals with the aspirations of Dorothea Brooke and her disastrous marriage to Edward Casaubon. The second relates the attempt by Dr. Lydgate to establish a successful medical career that also is demolished by an unwise marriage. The third tells of the many travails of Mary Garth. And the final explains the rise and fall of the banker Bulstrode. Each of these main characters represents types of the middle class that made up the social strata with which George Eliot was so familiar. As they interact with each other, Eliot depicts their respective struggles to achieve success or happiness. These attempts usually begin with marriage or high hopes. Dorothea Brooke suffers disillusion with her husband after only a few months. Casaubon, for his part, endures the agony of knowing that his Great Book is truly the piece of trash that Dorothea rightfully suspects it to be. What emerges in the reader after completing the book is a sense of knowledge of the inner lives of the book's characters and of accrued impressions of life on a vast scale, but what is lacking is the realization that no one in MIDDLEMARCH has learned anything of value except perhaps that fate is a game of chance with the deck stacked against humanity. The reader further acknowledges that God has pulled a disappearing act, leaving the residents of Eliot's world to fend for themselves. And since the characters of MIDDLEMARCH do not change, then neither does its readers. The final judgment on MIDDLEMARCH is that it shows in a universe of detail and character delineation the interlocking lives of characters who suffer mightily, but in whose suffering fall short either of heroism or tragedy.
Date published: 2009-09-08

– More About This Product –

Middlemarch

by George Eliot

Format: Trade Paperback

Published: January 1, 1998

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 3895082600

ISBN - 13: 9783895082603

About the Author

George Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans on a Warwickshire farm in England, where she spent almost all of her early life. She received a modest local education and was particularly influenced by one of her teachers, an extremely religious woman whom the novelist would later use as a model for various characters. Eliot read extensively, and was particularly drawn to the romantic poets and German literature. In 1849, after the death of her father, she went to London and became assistant editor of the Westminster Review, a radical magazine. She soon began publishing sketches of country life in London magazines. At about his time Eliot began her lifelong relationship with George Henry Lewes. A married man, Lewes could not marry Eliot, but they lived together until Lewes's death. Eliot's sketches were well received, and soon after she followed with her first novel, Adam Bede (1859). She took the pen name "George Eliot" because she believed the public would take a male author more seriously. Like all of Eliot's best work, The Mill on the Floss (1860), is based in large part on her own life and her relationship with her brother. In it she begins to explore male-female relations and the way people's personalities determine their relationships with others. She returns to this theme in Silas Mariner (1861), in which she examines the changes brought about in life and personality of a miser through the love of a little girl. In 1863, Eliot published Romola. Set against the political intrigue
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