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Middlemarch by George Eliot
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Middlemarch (original 1872; edition 2011)

by George Eliot, Juliet Stevenson (Narrator)

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10,294157280 (4.21)10 / 1172
Member:mirrordrum
Title:Middlemarch
Authors:George Eliot
Other authors:Juliet Stevenson (Narrator)
Info:audible.com from Naxos AudioBooks
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:audiobook, audible.com, Juliet Stevenson, fiction, Great Britain, 19th century, social life and customs, women in 19th century, marriage

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Middlemarch by George Eliot (1872)

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    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)
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    kara.shamy: Similar -- almost unique really -- in their tremendous breadth and depth...
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English (149)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 149 (next | show all)
Classic story from 1870s England - the story of the changing times, but more about the struggles to be truly human, truly useful in Victorian English society. This presents a challenge for we readers who know little to nothing of English countryside life in the second half of the nineteenth century, or English politics or all the place and name dropping which were current, common knowledge at the time of publication. A challenge for modern readers also because of the 19th century sentence style - long, convoluted, paranthetical- but a worthy challenge. Eliot's descriptions still end up with statements of insight that gave me pause - her knowledge of both men and women's inner workings, and thoughts- were further recognition of the complexity of the human condition. It took me a good third of the book to accustom myself to her style, and absorb the family /friend connections-all the names!- typical of Victorian novels. But there was no difficulty in recognizing myself, and others, in her compelling, well drawn characters: all their strengths, weaknesses, and daily struggles: Mary Garth and her kind, hardworking parents; the Vincy family with their two spoiled but handsome children, Fred and Rosamund; Dorothea Brooke, in her idealistic, ambitious fervor and her milder, affectionate sister Celia and their uncle Mr. Brooke, friendly, rambling in his speech, and a fixture of the landed gentry of Middlemarch; cold, scholarly Mr. Casaubon and his handsome, careless cousin Will Ladislaw; the intelligent, tolerant Vicar, Mr. Farebrother and his elderly mother and aunt; the ambitious, intense medical man, Tertius Lydgate and his calculating, Puritanical hospital sponsor, Mr. Bulstrode, with a secret past he thinks will stay buried... now I'll go back and watch the Masterpiece Theatre PBS production and enjoy it all the more for George Eliot's sympathetic depiction, doomed though some of the characters may be, of the intricacies and trials of everyday life, for the great and the small. ( )
  BDartnall | May 27, 2014 |
An article in New York magazine singing the praises of Middlemarch prompted me to pick up a copy at my local paperback book exchange. (http://www.vulture.com/2014/01/rebecca-mead-revisits-george-eliots-middlemarch.h...) I read or misread Eliot's novel Silas Marner in high school. All these years later (until reading Middlemarch)I retained an impression of Eliot as rather grim, or at least bent on making a moral point. Well, Eliot certainly tells a tale of morality, but with humor & sympathy for even the baddest acting of her characters. We get to know Middlemarch, with all its residents' hairsplitting notions of rank & worth, from multiple perspectives. In fact, the issue of the worth, or more to the point, the worthiness of an individual is a core concern of Eliot's here. There are characters who are almost above reproach, such as Dorothea Brooke, Caleb Garth & Mary Garth; and characters who are less steady but for the most part generous in their thoughts & actions, such as Tertius Lydgate & Reverand Farebrother. There are two young men, Will Ladislaw & Fred Vincy, who are often misunderstood & reckoned to be worthless by the "chorus" of Middlemarch gossips, but who are believed in by some, particularly by the women they love & ultimately wed (Dorothea & Mary). Eliot keeps us interested in her many characters (mine was just a short list)& only occasionally drops the ball. The most glaring example, I think, is Joshua Rigg, who appears as Peter Featherstone's heir, to the surprise of all. Rigg arrives & leaves; apparently he's Featherstone's natural son from the period before he became a prominent man, when he was elsewhere making a fortune in mining. We never learn much about Rigg; his function seems to be solely to frustrate Fred Vincy's dreams of an easy life as Featherstone's heir, which would have been a disaster as far as Fred's moral development is concerned. Perhaps the most complicated character in the novel is one of the "worst." Nicolas Bulstrode is a tormented man. His actions, both in his earlier life where he prospered through others' misfortune & in his current one, where he wishes for & essentially brings about the death of a man who has been blackmailing him are often reprehensible. But he is not without sympathy. He has "good" impulses too & the fact that his admirable wife remains with him after his disgrace is a sign that Eliot does not want him to be read as evil. Reading Middlemarch confounded me in the way that most English novels do (whether 19th or 20th century): I never quite "get" the class thing: how it's best to have "good blood," land & wealth; still good to have title & land but then you have to marry someone with wealth; OK to have no title but have money but then you have to marry into "good blood." Worst of all is to have dubious parentage (foreign, Jewish, or simply unknown), little to no wealth, with or without an education. There is a sharp distinction drawn between people who work & those who don't; value assigned to living on rents rather than professional or other earnings (not by Eliot, but by society). Another aspect of English novels that confuses me is the import of various religious divisions & how those map onto wealth & class issues. Having been raised as a Roman Catholic, where there are certainly rich Catholics & poor ones, rich parishes & poor ones, but all are still Catholics, I've never quite gotten the meaning of being a Methodist as compared, for example, to being Episcopalian. Enough said. I am rambling on, although Eliot's long novel does invite such rambling. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
In all honesty, I enjoyed it more and read it faster than I thought I would. My favorite line of Eliot's came at the end: "...for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."

Of all the characters, I liked Rosamond the least (Mr. Casaubon coming in a close second to "Rosy"), and I liked Dorothea the best. In the end, I'm glad "Dodo" went for it. ( )
  NadineC.Keels | Apr 10, 2014 |
It has taken me a long time to read this book but it is well worth the time and effort. This is a wonderful story full of exceptionally well developed characters and plot lines. The central character, Dorothea Brooks is flanked by Other members of Middlemarch society from the aristocracy and the labourers. Among the more interesting characters are Fred Vincy, who loves Mary Garth, Dr. Lydgate who falls under the spell of the vacuous Rosamond Vincy, Casaubon, the middle aged preacher who Dorothea unfortunately marries, Will Ladislav, a distant relative of Casuabon, with a checkered birthright, Balustrode with a hidden past and secret which affects almost all of the population. There are many other characters but these are the principle ones. The writing is excellent. I have not had the pleasure of savouring such brilliant descriptions of thoughts, emotions, love and activities for quite some time and this is truly a masterpiece. There is a sense of humanity, justice, kindness and forgiveness in her main characters vs the petty prejudices of the "elite" and masses.
I really enjoyed the descriptions English society and politics at the time, In particular the discussions about the Reform bill and it's potential impact . All turns out well in the end.the ( )
  MaggieFlo | Apr 1, 2014 |
I recently reviewed My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead, and she inspired me to return – for the third time – to one of my all-time favorite novels:Middlemarch by George Eliot. Fortunately, on my first two reads, I used two different pencils, so I was able to compare my readings as I went along.

According to the BBC History Website, George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans, one of the leading English novelists of the 19th century. She was born on 22 November 1819 in rural Warwickshire. When her mother died in 1836, Eliot left school to help run her father's household. In 1841, she moved with her father to Coventry and lived with him until his death in 1849. Eliot then travelled in Europe, eventually settling in London. In 1850, Eliot began contributing to the Westminster Review, a leading journal for philosophical radicals and later became its editor. She was now at the centre of a literary circle through which she met George Henry Lewes, with whom she lived until his death in 1878. Lewes was married and their relationship caused a scandal. Eliot was shunned by friends and family. Lewes encouraged Eliot to write. In 1856, she began a series of novels, which proved to be great successes. She used a male pen name to ensure her works were taken seriously in an era when female authors were usually associated with romantic novels. The popularity of Eliot's novels brought social acceptance, and Lewes and Eliot's home became a meeting place for writers and intellectuals. After Lewes' death Eliot married a friend, John Cross, who was 20 years her junior. She died on 22 December 1880 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery in North London.

Eliot underscored the importance of teaching reading and the humanities when she wrote in a letter to Frederic Harrison the following: “aesthetic teaching is the highest of all teaching because it deals with life in its highest complexity” (593). This quintessential novel of the 19th century conveys in a wonderfully entertaining fashion, the complex tangled web of love, marriage, and relationships.

My worn Norton Edition has hundreds of passages underlined and annotated. The attempt to encapsulate this novel in a single passage proves almost impossible. So, I decided to quote the opening passage, which describes the main character:

“Miss Brooks had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters; and her profile as well as her stature and bearing seemed to gain the more dignity from her plain garments, which by the side of provincial fashion gave her the impressiveness of a fine quotation from the Bible, -- or from one of our elder poets, -- in a paragraph of today’s newspaper. She was usually spoken of as being remarkably clever, but with the addition that her sister Celia had more common sense” (1).

Middlemarch by George Eliot is one of the great novels of British Literature. Rather than simply read, it should be experienced. Do not be deterred by its 578 pages. You will visit Middlemarch and soon return after what will seem like the briefest of vacations. 5 stars

--Jim, 3/22/14 ( )
  rmckeown | Mar 29, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (82 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George Eliotprimary 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.
"Now, ladies," said Mr. Trumbull, ... "these bijoux must be examined. This I have in my hand is an ingenious contrivance -- a sort of practical rebus I may call it: here, you see, it looks like an elegant heart-shaped box, portable - for the pocket; there, again, it becomes like a splendid double flower -- an ornament for the table; and now" -- Mr. Trumbull allowed the flower to fall alarmingly into strings of heart-shaped leaves -- "a book of riddles! No less than five hundred printed in a beautiful red."
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:19 -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 25 descriptions

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

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Penguin Australia

Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439548, 0141199792, 0143123815

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