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Middlemarch (1872)

by George Eliot

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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17,119324283 (4.2)15 / 1872
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life is exactly what it claims. Its multiple plots center around the inhabitants of a fictitious Midlands town and their evolving relationships to each other. It is critical of social class, ambition and marriage, and religion. It is commonly considered one of the masterpieces of English writing, and Virginia Woolf described it as "the magnificent book that, with all its imperfections, is one of the few English novels written for grown-up people".

.… (more)
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  5. 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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    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (amanda4242)
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    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.
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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)
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    kara.shamy: Similar -- almost unique really -- in their tremendous breadth and depth...
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» See also 1872 mentions

English (312)  Spanish (5)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  Latvian (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (324)
Showing 1-5 of 312 (next | show all)
Many happy hours of studio work and long walks passed in the company of this original set of characters. I still want to shake Lydgate before he proposes to Rosamund, and open Dorothea's eyes before she accepts the odious Casaubon — no doubt because Eliot makes one care so much for each of them.

Personal character, family obligation, independent thought, influences for good, and one's duty to self and others play out in a small town on the stage where friendship and marriage, their reality or possibility, shape destinies. ( )
  rebwaring | Aug 14, 2023 |
A Book You Were Supposed To Read In School But Didn’t

I'm not sure Middlemarch is actually the George Eliot book I was supposed to read in college. Eight hundred pages seems overly long for an undergraduate Brit Lit survey class. Regardless, I didn't expect to enjoy reading it any more than I would have had I identified the novel from that long ago syllabus.

Then I started reading.

And kept reading.

And ripped through this tale of a bucolic English village in less than a week, sandwiching reading between my fulltime job and binge-watching two episodes of Better Call Saul every night.

Middlemarch is the story of Dorothea Brooke, a young woman who marries a much older man under the mistaken impression he will enlarge her world by including her in his intellectual pursuits. It is also the story of Tertius Lydgate, an ambitious young doctor who marries an attractive, self-centered woman whose refusal to face financial realities threatens to heap emotional misery on top of their financial difficulties. Woven around these two tumultuous relationships are a host of Middlemarchers searching for happiness in the midst of everyday life. Eliot narrates an entertaining tale that teeters on the brink of disaster yet manages to provide a happy ending for most of those deserving of one. Among the timeless themes she explores are sons disappointing their fathers, pious men hiding scandalous past behavior, jealousy, innocent husbands and wives harmed by their spouses' actions, ignorant strangers believing the worst about an innocent man, and acts seemingly harmful to a character turning out to be best for him after all.

My only criticisms of Middlemarch are that Eliot sometimes intrudes into the story where she would be better off letting her characters lead us to the wisdom she seeks to impart, and that several tedious scenes could be cut out of the novel and leave it none the worse. These are small complaints which shouldn't influence your decision to read this grand story which Virginia Woolf accurately referred to as an "English novel written for grown-up people". ( )
  skavlanj | Aug 9, 2023 |
I started reading this book with absolutely no idea what it was about, and I loved it so much that I don't want to spoil that innocence for prospective readers. So what I'll try to do is to explain some of the things I love about George Eliot's writing.

Firstly, the characters are so brilliantly drawn. They all have inner lives which motivate their actions and which are complex, contradictory and relatable. Eliot has a very sly way of describing a character in the terms in which they're seen by the rest of the world while hinting that another interpretation is available. So she might relay the general contempt that the character is held in by the Middlemarch community, but eventually you notice that the narrator herself only describes the character in neutral terms. Thus a character who could have easily become a cartoon villain has some hinted-at depth, which will invariably be fleshed out later.

Then there is the prose, which is so witty and so full of quotable lines. OK, as was the fashion at the time, there are a lot of double and even triple negatives, but otherwise the prose is very engaging. And Eliot is so clearly in control of what she's doing, and using style to deliver her message with perfect clarity. For instance, every now and again, out of nowhere, Eliot will refer to the reader in the second person, or in the first person plural ("we") and the effect on me was so profound that I laughed out loud and shook my head when I read it. It's not always a major point she's making, but it always has a perfect impact.

The dialogue is wonderful, with each pair of characters having their own way of talking to each other. Apart from a bit of rendered vernacular, which always irritates me, the dialogue isn't overdone. Yes, Mr Brookes is ridiculous, and a source of comedy, but he consistently speaks the same way and his mode of expression is not beyond the realms of my experience.

And, although there's much more to praise, the politics, history and wisdom that pervade the book add so much to the experience. The introduction of the edition I read (which I read after reading the novel, of course) casts some question over Eliot's status as a feminist, but to me she is clearly a feminist in the sense that she is carefully recording women's conditions at that time. The narrator doesn't cast judgement, to my eye, but simply states the field of action that was open to women at that time and explores the consequences of this.

OK, one point on content: I think this is a novel about decisions, but what makes it wonderful is that each decision is carefully motivated and explained. Eliot provides so much insight into each character's ideas and feelings that I often found myself momentarily convinced of the merits of even the worst decisions that characters made. Then, with a similarly sympathetic eye, Eliot follows through on the consequences of those decisions and the character's continued attempts to justify them.

So, it feels absurd for me to pass my judgement on such a brilliant piece of literature, written almost 150 years ago, but it touched, moved and entertained me in a profound way. ( )
  robfwalter | Jul 31, 2023 |
I loved this book so much, I named a cat after the author. ( )
  judeprufrock | Jul 4, 2023 |
The danger of raised expectations. Middlemarch has received so many accolades (for example, https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20151204-why-middlemarch-is-the-greatest-bri... that its place in the canon is undisputed. And while there is no doubt that Eliot's characters have more psychological verisimilitude than, say, Dickens or Dostoevsky, I found Middlemarch to be more impressive than profound. It's an elaborate rehashing of the marriage plot, with more characters than Austen could juggle. It also anticipates Woolf and the modernists, in that it tries to avoid that character as caricature trap that so many early novelists fall into. Eliot really strives for complexity here. The fatal flaw is that Dorothea is too saintly to be realistic. Compare her to someone like Alyosha Karamazov, who really is in the business of helping people and denying himself happiness. Dorothea's marriage with Will, in the end, is a letdown - Eliot makes her more conventional than we would expect, from her first marriage to Casaubon. There is some commentary on womanhood that I totally missed, along with the vein of humor throughout that only faintly registered with me.

I did really enjoy the character of Mary Garth - she seems to be a stand-in for Eliot, with her biting wit and plain looks. Characters like Rosamond, Dorothea, and Ladislaw live in the ethere. ( )
  jonbrammer | Jul 1, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 312 (next | show all)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eliot, Georgeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anderson, QuentinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Arbonès, JordiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ashton, RosemaryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Aubrey, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baldi, GiovanniEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beaty, JeromeAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bickford-Smith, CoralieIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bonaparte, FeliciaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bottalico, MicheleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boyd, CaroleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brett, SImonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bullett, GeraldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A.S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carabine, Dr KeithSeries Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carroll, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cooley, MasonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Creswick, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dielman, Frederick DielmanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dixon, A. A.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drabble, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Egan, JenniferIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elias, MonicaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ellis, RickCover Designsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eve, AdamIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Faber, MichelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fitzgerald, PenelopeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gray, BerylEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gregory, PhilippaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haight, Gordon S.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Halley, NedAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Handley, GrahamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, MargaretEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hart, KingsleyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harvey, William JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henry, NancyPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hewitt, R. M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hidalgo, PilarEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hische, JessicaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hornback, Bert G.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hulse, Michaelsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacques, RobinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnston, JudithEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jumeau, AlainTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kermode, FrankAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
López Muñoz, José LuisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leisi, IlseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Levine, GeorgeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lutz, DeborahNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maertz, GregoryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manzari, MarioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mathias, RobertCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McDaniel, MeganIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mead, RebeccaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monod, SylvèreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mornet, PierreIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mullan, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Neff, Wanda FraikenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nickel, IrmgardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Brien, MaureenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pickup, RonaldNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prose, FrancineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pujals, María EngraciaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ramberg, Mona LycheOvers.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reading, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rhys, ErnestEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, DoreenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roeleveld, AnneliesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Russell, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sabbadini, SilvanoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schwartz, Lynne SharonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shaffer, Elinor S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shaffert, Ericsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stade, GeorgeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stephen, LesliePrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevens, MargretTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Storm, ArieAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Struik, AlexCover Designsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, W. L.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tollet, ElsieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tollet, HåkanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuomikoski, AuneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wachinger, KristianHerausgebersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walter, HarrietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walz, MelanieHerausgebersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wildi, MaxNachwortsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woolf, GabrielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woolf, VirginiaPréfacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zerbst, RainerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Короткова, Е.пер.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Гурова, И.пер.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
אריוך, ג.Translatorsecondary 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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Wikipedia in English


Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life is exactly what it claims. Its multiple plots center around the inhabitants of a fictitious Midlands town and their evolving relationships to each other. It is critical of social class, ambition and marriage, and religion. It is commonly considered one of the masterpieces of English writing, and Virginia Woolf described it as "the magnificent book that, with all its imperfections, is one of the few English novels written for grown-up people".


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Book description
By the time the novel appeared to tremendous popular and critical acclaim in 1871-2, George Eliot was recognized as England's finest living novelist. It was her ambition to create a world and portray a whole community--tradespeople, middle classes, country gentry--in the rising provincial town of Middlemarch, circa 1830. Vast and crowded, rich in narrative irony and suspense, «Middlemarch» is richer still in character, in its sense of how individual destinies are shaped by and shape the community, and in the great art that enlarges the reader's sympathy and imagination. It is truly, as Virginia Woolf famously remarked, 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people'.
Haiku summary
dorothea cares

in a world not quite ready

to accept her views
Interwoven fates,
A tapestry of stories,
Each thread a life.

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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

Urban Romantics

An edition of this book was published by Urban Romantics.

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