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The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

The Mill on the Floss (1860)

by George Eliot

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,75898874 (3.79)410
  1. 120
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Two Victorian heroines approach the question of how to reconcile passion and morality in very different ways.
  2. 80
    Middlemarch by George Eliot (Booksloth)
  3. 41
    Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (Booksloth)
  4. 64
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (roby72)
  5. 00
    David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (kara.shamy)

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Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
This was my first experience with Elliot and made me a fan for life. It is a bit sad, but so good! ( )
  Amelia1989 | Jun 10, 2019 |
Stunning. The most enthralling George Eliot I have read thus far, I enjoyed The Mill on the Floss, her second novel, more than her better known Middlemarch and Silas Marner. Seemingly insignificant anecdotes shed light on siblings Maggie and Tom as they grow older, and it is their characterisation which I remember most. The finale felt extravagant, fabricated and Hardy-esque, set apart from the pastoral delicacy pervading the rest of the novel. While this doesn't suit my preference, it demonstrates George Eliot's versatility in illuminating drama as well as character.

I won't spoil the plot, but will share a flavour of what you will find. Like George Eliot's other novels, the themes are pastoral life, struggle against circumstances, familial bonds, interplay of personalities. Specific to The Mill on the Floss, this is a story of growing up and falling in love. But this more than a well-told coming of age story. George Eliot is at her best and most entertaining in her psychological insights. Some examples are below.

On Tom and a fellow pupil:-

"If boys and men are to be welded together in the glow of transient feeling, they must be made of metal that will mix, else they inevitably fall asunder when the heat dies out."

On Maggie and her childhood persona:-

"The world outside the books was not a happy one, Maggie felt: it seemed to be a world where people behaved the best to those they did not pretend to love, and that did not belong to them. And if life had no love in it, what else was there for Maggie?"

You will find, to the irritation of some but joy of others, wonderfully witty metaphors:-

"Imagine a truly respectable and amiable hen, by some portentous anomaly, taking to reflection and inventing combinations by which she might prevail on Hodge not to wring her neck, or send her and her chicks to market: the result could hardly be other than much cackling and fluttering."

I see George Eliot as a highly intelligent writer, but in this novel she also expresses deep feeling. Perhaps this is because The Mill on the Floss is supposedly the most autobiographical of her works. Even the minor characters are treated carefully. This is the novel which truly made me realise why George Eliot is considered a master of realism.

"If, in the maiden days of the Dodson sisters, their Bibles opened more easily at some parts than others, it was because of dried tulip-petals, which had been distributed quite impartially, without preference for the historical, devotional, or doctrinal."

The love story is cleverly and realistically constructed, in words relevant even today. A few choice quotes:-

"They had begun the morning with an indifferent salutation, and both had rejoiced in being aloof from each other, like a patient who has actually done without his opium, in spite of former failures in resolution."

"Why was he not thoroughly happy? Jealousy is never satisfied with anything short of an omniscience that would detect the subtlest fold of the heart."

"Love is natural; but surely pity and faithfulness and memory are natural too. And they would live in me still, and punish me if I did not obey them."

The Mill on the Floss is an excellent introduction to Victorian literature. ( )
  jigarpatel | Feb 27, 2019 |
Eliot, having lost me in the past follows up with another novel that demands my unswerving respect. The Mill on the Floss, even after the characters move into adulthood, is about childhood. Its wonderful and scarring and inevitably ends. This novel feels like it moved more briskly than Adam Bede, but there are plenty of unabashed appreciations of nature and the characters live in a populated world. St. Ogg's has a spirit all its own and I am in awe of Aunt Glegg and the Dodson character.

I was unaware of what The Mill on the Floss was about and went into it with an expectation of something similar to Bede in plot and setting. I was mistaken. St. Ogg's is a less rural community and the time is closer to Eliot's present, but the real difference is in the challenges of society's hypocrisy and the limited expectations for women. Eliot goes further and more boldly in her arguments and holds up examples that prove her point. There is a tragic love story, but it feels more natural and the feelings of all involved are explored to a depth that would have given little room for contemporary readers to miss her intentions. Hetty Sorrel was a sympathetic figure, but undeniably foolish. There can be no such accusations against Maggie Tulliver.

The plot involves the fallout of legal disputes of Maggie and Tom Tulliver's father concerning the family mill. Their cousin Lucy Deane, the son of Mr. Tulliver's rival Philip Wakem, and Stephen Guest (introduced as a throwaway reference to idle wealth), as well as their families are all affected. Maggie and Tom must bend to the will of chance and respectively accept and reject the roles their parents designed for them. Eliot's characters as children have an authentic ring about them that makes them more that diminutive versions of their adult selves. They are childishly petty or noble and have expectations about the world and their actions that make perfect sense to themselves.

Another aspect I enjoyed was the attention to details from the niceties of Mrs. Tulliver and her sister's housekeeping, the books enjoyed by Maggie, to the Dutch wooden Tom carries in his pocket as present. Eliot's novels are rich sources and I'll pick up Silas Marner next. I was engrossed reading this book and touched by the ending. It was beautifully done and the sentiment felt right. Aunt Glegg would have approved. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Siblings Tom and Maggie Tulliver grow up in the mill their father owns. But things don't go too well and their father is indebted and keeps fighting with his creditor, Mr. Wakem, forcing pragmatic, serious Tom to quit school and work at the mill. Meanwhile the more idealistic Maggie becomes friends with Philip Wakem, the son of the creditor. But their friendship cannot stand in the face of the antipathy between families and puts Maggie at odds with Tom. Years later, Philip and Maggie meet again at the house of her friend Lucy Deane. Another guest there is Lucy's fiancé Stephen Guest who starts to pay more attention to Maggie.

It was a fight for me to get through this book, but by the end it had gripped me and then it frustrated me again with the ending. Nevertheless, it's well-written enough that I will definitely try another Eliot in the future.

Read more on my blog: http://kalafudra.com/2018/02/27/the-mill-on-the-floss-george-eliot/ ( )
  kalafudra | Dec 7, 2018 |
Wonderful characters and dialogue, but I shall never forgive Eliot for what she does to them at the end. ( )
  lisahistory | Nov 11, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (85 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eliot, GeorgeAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allen, Walter ErnestIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Atkins, EileenReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A. S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A. S.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A. S.Contributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Constable, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daiches, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, J BernardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Livesey, MargotIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MacNeill, AlysonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manning, WrayIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mooney, BelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stephens, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A wide plain, where the broadening Floss hurries on between its green banks to the sea, and the loving tide, rushing to meet it, checks its passage with an impetuous embrace. On this mighty tide the black ships -laden with the fresh-scented fir-planks, with rounded sacks of oil-bearing seed, or with the dark glitter of coal—are borne along to the town of St. Ogg's, which shows its aged, fluted red roofs and the broad gables of its wharves between the low wooded hill and the river-brink, tingeing the water with a soft purple hue under the transient glance of this February sun. Far away on each hand stretch the rich pastures, and the patches of dark earth made ready for the seed of broad-leaved green crops, or touched already with the tint of the tender-bladed autumn-sown corn. There is a remnant still of last year's golden clusters of beehive-ricks rising at intervals beyond the hedgerows; and everywhere the hedgerows are studded with trees; the distant ships seem to be lifting their masts and stretching their red-brown sails close among the branches of the spreading ash. Just by the red-roofed town the tributary Ripple flows with a lively current into the Floss. How lovely the little river is, with its dark changing wavelets! It seems to me like a living companion while I wander along the bank, and listen to its low, placid voice, as to the voice of one who is deaf and loving. I remember those large dipping willows. I remember the stone bridge.
Such things as these are the mother-tongue of our imagination, the language that is laden with all the subtle, inextricable associations the fleeting hours of our childhood left behind them. Our delight in the sunshine on the deep-bladed grass to-day might be no more than the faint perception of wearied souls, if it were not for the sunshine and the grass in the far-off years which still live in us, and transform our perception into love.
There is no feeling, except the extremes of fear and grief, that does not find relief in music.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141439629, Paperback)

Brought up at Dorlcote Mill, Maggie Tulliver worships her brother Tom and is desperate to win the approval of her parents, but her passionate, wayward nature and her fierce intelligence bring her into constant conflict with her family. As she reaches adulthood, the clash between their expectations and her desires is painfully played out as she finds herself torn between her relationships with three very different men: her proud and stubborn brother, a close friend who is also the son of her family's worst enemy, and a charismatic but dangerous suitor. With its poignant portrayal of sibling relationships, The Mill on the Floss is considered George Eliot's most autobiographical novel; it is also one of her most powerful and moving.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:30 -0400)

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Maggie Tulliver, passionate and imaginative, comes into conflict with the middle-class narrowness of the town of St. Ogg's and with her beloved brother Tom.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439629, 0141198915

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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