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Middlemarch by George Eliot

Middlemarch (original 1872; edition 2011)

by George Eliot, Michel Faber (Introduction), Philippa Gregory (Afterword)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,928176259 (4.21)14 / 1353
Authors:George Eliot
Other authors:Michel Faber (Introduction), Philippa Gregory (Afterword)
Info:Signet Classics (2011), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 928 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Middlemarch by George Eliot (1872)

  1. 110
    Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (christiguc, Hollerama)
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    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (shallihavemydwarf)
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    The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (Booksloth)
  4. 30
    My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: One reader's relationship with this novel; also some biography of Eliot and a literary criticism.
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    North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (PensiveCat)
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    South Riding: An English Landscape by Winifred Holtby (Booksloth)
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    The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed by Judith Flanders (susanbooks)
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    The Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel Richardson (thesmellofbooks)
    thesmellofbooks: The Getting of Wisdom is the rare sort of book that provokes deep self-reflection and a nudge in the direction of peace-making with self and life, and in this way brings to mind [[George Eliot]]'s [Middlemarch]. I am gobsmacked. The novel begins as an entertaining tale of a headstrong young Australian girl going to meet the world at boarding school. It gradually evolves into a subtle, simple, and stunningly real observation of the pressures of conformity and the intolerance of naïveté, which, when paired with a strong desire to be accepted, can lead to many and often rending responses in an imaginative young person. Yet it is not a tragedy. I am left moved, affectionate, a little worried about the future, and yet joyful at the intactness of the protagonist's resilient soul. Bravo, Ms Richardson.… (more)
  9. 00
    Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These 19th-century classics portray complex romantic relationships with vivid descriptions and a strong sense of place. With intricate, twisting plots, both offer their protagonists bleak outlooks that end in satisfying resolutions.
  10. 01
    George Eliot. by Elsemarie Maletzke (JuliaMaria)
  11. 03
    Ulysses by James Joyce (kara.shamy)
    kara.shamy: Similar -- almost unique really -- in their tremendous breadth and depth...

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English (168)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All languages (176)
Showing 1-5 of 168 (next | show all)
Really like 3.5...

How, then, to address a novel such as this? On the one hand, it became a chore to read far more often than it was a joy. I almost don't understand the overwhelming praise for the novel - and yet, at the same time, I do. That chore is exemplary of... well, of life. It's life, this novel. I also understand J.K. Rowling's desire to write A Casual Vacancy now - for that novel is most certainly a sort of modern version of this story, albeit with more plot and more modern excitements. This novel stands somewhat over everyone who has come after, not ostentatiously but just there. An implacable, immovable part of the English literary tradition. And even while I wasn't terribly thrilled by the stories of marriage, of wills & bequests, of politics, and so on... I did, a little bit, enjoy them.

More, sort of, at RB: http://ragingbiblioholism.com/2014/07/18/middlemarch/ ( )
  drewsof | Sep 30, 2015 |
It's an impressive must-read classic, but I admire this novel more than I love it. It tries to do too much, and then somehow gets it all done. A small English town is the setting but that entire town is its stage, there are allusions to all manner of things requiring endnotes be consulted, and the author demonstrates a powerful mind in sentences that must be read twice to grasp, character portraits to justify any personality, and with both feet firmly planted in realism. I'm moved to say it's a story about how much one's happiness descends upon making a poor choice in a life partner, however excusable that choosing may be. But I could as easily say it's about the evils of money, or politics large and small. Which story commands the foreground depends more upon your perception than the narrative's guidance, because it fantastically intertwines all of these things.

It's the style rather than the impressive content that lends it a dry feeling. Virginia Wolf may have been correct that with Middlemarch fictional characters began to think as well as to feel, in that the characters' thoughts drive their emotions more often than vice versa, but the novel is so wrapped up in thinking that it keeps its gates too tightly fastened at the control dams of the feeling portion. Everyone in this story is to be understood and understandable. George Eliot's narration too often takes charge to ensure this. Then it can read very clinically, weighted with exposition and psychological analysis. In the better portions, enough is left enshrouded in mystery and open to interpretation, actions and motives being justified by the character's citing good homilies while clearly there are other perspectives that are being neglected. In these parts the novel shines and it engages.

I did not know sometimes whether she was inventing fiction or psychology, whether I should join in the chorus that credits George Eliot with sharp insight or criticize her for dictating too often. At its worst it can feel as though the novel is placed on pause in frozen tableau while she taps with a pointer on the inner workings of the minds in play. I've met this before in Henry James and others and felt it was done well without becoming so much like an essay. To the extent that thought has been emphasized over emotion, it demands a similar commitment from the reader - thus, for me, more admirable than loved. The broad-ranging insight is undeniably there, sharp enough to balance the novel's lack of particular focus, and eminently makes this novel worth reading once. Nothing more precise can summarize it than to say that no one's life is a fairy tale, be they wealthy or poor, wise or otherwise, prudent or precocious. Perhaps we can also conclude that those who are happiest dwell least on their neighbours' opinions. ( )
  Cecrow | Sep 15, 2015 |
So proud to have read this book at last! And it was wonderful. It's true, you do have to accustom yourself to the style, but the rewards are great. Insightful, sometimes sad, often witty. Thanks to my wonderful book club (are we forever the Middlemarchers?) for the impetus to read this magnificent novel! ( )
  DowntownLibrarian | Jul 23, 2015 |
With all of its 880 pages, I expected “more” in terms of a definitive plot, which I did not find. The characters are rich and the time period displayed beautifully by Eliot. Her descriptive powers are delicious as evidenced by description of Mr. Casaubon: "as genuine a character as any ruminant animal". (pg. 173) The pace of the book is slow and reminds somewhat of Austen and Wharton. I have 2-3 other Eliot’s in my anthology and as of right now I’m not anxious to begin them. ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Jun 28, 2015 |
[From Books and You, Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1940, pp. 18-21:]

Now I come to Middlemarch. Judged simply as a piece of fiction it seems to me better than either of the novels I have just been discussing [Trollope’s The Eustace Diamonds and Meredith’s The Egoist]. It is an excellent piece of craftsmanship. It cannot have been easy to construct, for George Eliot has taken as her subject not one group of persons in one social sphere, but different groups in different spheres, giving you a picture of the landed gentry who live on their estates round the town of Middlemarch, and the professional men, merchants and tradesmen who inhabit it. You are not asked, as you are by so many novelists, to concern yourself with the fortunes of two or three people who live in vacuum, as it were, so that the world outside them is of no moment, but with the fortunes of all the sorts and conditions of men who make up the world in which we all live; and their various stories are managed with consummate skill. Nor, as often happens when less skilful writers attempt this complicated form of fiction, is your interest confined to one set of characters so that when you are asked to transfer it to another you do so with disinclination; George Eliot enlists your sympathies equally with them all, and she passes from one lot of people to another as naturally as in real life we pass from the people who are associated with one side of it to the people who are associated with another. This gives the novel a singular air of reality. Although the action begins when George the Fourth was still King of England we say to ourselves that this is the sort of thing we know life to be. The characters, and there are a great many of them, are wonderfully natural; they are observed with precision, so that each one stands on his own feet, a human being with his own idiosyncrasies; but George Eliot had no glow and she could not give the creatures of her invention the quality of the archangel which George Meredith was so often able to give his (and it occurs to me that this is a legitimate excuse for Clara Middleton never giving a thought to her trousseau, for doubtless an archangel would not consider the need of a wedding-gown); George Eliot saw them coolly, accurately, but with sympathy. Her heroes are no more heroic than we are and her villains no more villainous. She got so into the skin of her personages that we see them not only as others see them but as they see themselves, and thus even Mr Casaubon is not only a hateful figure but also a pitiable one. They have a modern air, for they are not solely occupied with their emotions; they are concerned with politics and interest themselves in the problems of the day; economic questions enter into their lives as they enter into ours: they have heads as well as hearts. They are in short very much the same sort of people we are. I should be inclined to sum up my judgment of Middlemarch by saying that George Eliot had every gift of the great novelist but fire. No English author has given an ampler and more reasonable interpretation of life; the only quality that escaped her sensible and sympathetic observation was romance.
  WSMaugham | Jun 12, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eliot, Georgeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ashton, RosemaryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Creswick, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harvey, W. J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woolf, GabrielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Who that cares much to know the history of man, and how the mysterious mixture behaves under the varying experiments of Time, has not dwelt, at least briefly, on the life of Saint Theresa, has not smiled with some gentleness at the thought of the little girl waling forth one morning hand-in-hand with her still smaller brother, to go and seek martyrdom in the country of the Moors? (Prelude)
Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
Sane people did what their neighbors did, so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.
What we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.
Riding was an indulgence which she allowed herself in spite of conscientious qualms; she felt that she enjoyed it in a pagan sensuous way, and always looked forward to renouncing it.
Some discouragement, some faintness of the heart at the new real future which replaces the imaginary, is not unusual, and we do not expect people to be deeply moved by what is not unusual. That element of tragedy which lies in the very fact of frequency, has not yet wrought itself into the coarse emotions of mankind.
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Haiku summary
dorothea cares

in a world not quite ready

to accept her views

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141439548, Paperback)

It was George Eliot’s ambition to create a world and portray a whole community—tradespeople, middle classes, country gentry—in the rising fictional provincial town of Middlemarch, circa 1830. Vast and crowded, rich in narrative irony and
suspense, Middlemarch is richer still in character and in its sense of how individual destinies are shaped by and shape the community.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:03 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Set in a provincial Victorian neighborhood, the author explores the complex social relationship and the struggle to hold fast to personal tragedy in a materialistic environment.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 26 descriptions

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21 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439548, 0141199792, 0143123815

Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400102162, 1400108632

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