Middlemarch explores human nature like few stories before or since

I don’t know if women can have it all, a question that has inspired a number of “part ideas,” but they should have more than Dorothea Brooke, the heroine of George’s 1874 novel. Eliot. Middlemarch. Dorothea is married to the old counselor Edward Casaubon, whose mind is dry and his body is rigid, Dorothea realizes that her “dream girl” of an executive team is over, now she is married to a man who is a joker by another means he is blood. semicolons and parentheses.” Many years later, Susan Sontag recalled a similar pattern in reading Middlemarch: “I just turned eighteen, and I cried about a third of the way through the book because I realized that I was not only Dorothea, but that a few months before, I had married Mr. . Casaubon.” But Sontag, unlike Dorothea, can (and) divorce.

George Eliot was, of course, a woman, born Mary Anne Evans in 1819. Her writing about women can lead to a pessimistic view of that. Middlemarch the “woman’s novel” is perhaps Moby Dick’s worthy companion as the best English novel of the 19th century. Middlemarch It’s a human novel, and it remains, to this day, the only book that has given me nightmares. Subtitled “A Study of Provincial Life,” it’s important to the smallness of the person. We are all provincials, says Eliot, although our provinces are different. Nothing is more terrifying.

It took me a while to get there Middlemarch, see past Hemingway’s braggadocio and Proust’s logorrhea and finally see Eliot’s quiet wisdom, adorned like ghastly Victorian gowns. It is a shame that the book’s length and subject matter are offensive to many readers today, especially those with the Y chromosome. Middlemarch advise the precious young man from Brooklyn or Austin or San Francisco about this life business before the weak ejaculations of Jonathan Franzen.

My Life In Middlemarchby the New york author Rebecca Mead, humble – in a good way. It does not mean, like Alain De Botton’s idiotic How Proust Can Change Your Life, to shake the ground. Nor was he a serious academic, enjoying picayune conflicts between schools. This is Mead’s life in a book, in the Midlands village created by Eliot. In the end, though, this may be your life. As Mead wrote, “He made Middlemarchers of us all.”

Born and raised in southwest England, Mead first read Middlemarch at the age of 17 and immediately identified with Dorothea, in his words “a strong young woman who longs for a bigger life.” Without dramatizing his own life, Mead explains how that desire took him to Oxford and then to New York, where he came to work for what he called “a magazine week.” The result is an artistic nesting baby of a book: Mead writes about her own life, about how to live that life well in it. Middlemarchand about the woman who wrote that novel, which Henry James sometimes called “sweet taste.”

I don’t think about Eliot’s character, since Mead said he was asked for her hand in marriage when she was twenty, an offer she refused. He moved to London in 1850, and became an editor at The Westminster Review. There is a case with the philosopher Herbert Spencer, who admitted that there was no “sign of a warm feeling” for him, although he thought about it three years after a letter. In 1854, she began an affair with George Henry Lewes, who was previously married… with children. Mead, who was infertile with a Yale doctor and later married a man (her current husband) who had children from a previous marriage, appreciated the “open defiance” of the group Lewes and Eliot presented. In 1880, two years after Lewes’ death, Eliot married; Her husband, John Cross, was 20 years her junior. Today, we call her a cougar. Eliot knew he was treading on a foreign land, writing in a letter, “When I act in an unexpected manner, there are reasons to justify my action, though the reasons are unknown to you.” .”

There may have been some intellectual arrogance in that response, but Eliot’s defense of his marital status was justified. The declarations of the assured conviction stud Middlemarch, and Mead was clear in admitting that Eliot might scare off younger readers. Mead was an appreciative and careful reader, sold Middlemarch without overselling, describe the book without sound. In one amusing passage, he points out that Eliot described Dorothea and her sister when both were “about twelve years old.”

He grew up with the book, from his young “Dorothea” to a full appreciation of the limits of life in the senses. In one important passage, Mead describes how his dislike of Casaubon, as he grew older, lessened. He felt “a kind of close relationship with that sad, proud, condescending man.”

Like Casaubon, the Victorian story is simple, and one can always criticize Eliot for melodrama, moralizing and the lack of syntactical business. But there is more in it Middlemarch appreciate instead of criticizing. Not only was Eliot a pioneer, as Saul Bellow famously said of every novelist, but he was not afraid to expand from the personal to the universal, giving his story how to erase the little things of today, write-what- can’t the writers you know. Eliot wrote, for example, “we are all born in perfect ignorance, taking the world as an udder to feed ourselves.” According to Mead, it was this kind of obsession that kept him a lifelong reader Middlemarch, and hopes that it will be “enhanced by each re-visit” of the book. He also quoted a Cambridge student as saying that a scene between Dorothea and the young Will Ladislaw “is probably the closest a Victorian novel comes to describing a plot.” Don’t laugh at that. Otherwise, do it.

In the end, what comes next is Mead’s admiration for Eliot’s “great and kind heart,” his willingness to “enter the scene of other struggling men.” There were many Victorians; But we don’t think of them as big hearts. Here, Mead makes a convincing case for one of them. No, Middlemarch It won’t teach you how to run a hedge fund, fix your marriage or get your kid into Princeton. But it is one of our best novels, one of the wisest, and one of the most enjoyable to read.

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