Middlemarch Hardcover – Apr 26 2011
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Dorothea Brooke, a young woman of impeccable character, marries the embittered Mr. Casaubon, who almost immediately dies. Eliot takes the reader through a labyrinth of nineteenth-century morals and conventions as Dorothea searches for fulfillment and happiness. Walter's delicious, upper-crust English accent and understated English inflections immerse the listener in a little-known world of hedgerows and manners. This reading would have been a complete success had the narrator only taken more care with the timing surrounding omitted sections of the abridged text. She races ahead without pause, often confounding the listener, who finds the action has suddenly moved to the next county--or country--without warning. A worthy, though flawed, presentation. R.B.F. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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 walking forth one morning hand - in - hand with her still smaller brother, to go and seek martyrdom in the country of the Moors? Out they toddled from rugged Avila, wide - eyed and helpless - looking as two fawns, but with human hearts, already beating to a national idea; until domestic reality met them in the shape of uncles, and turned them back from their great resolve. That child - pilgrimage was a fit beginning. Theresa's passionate, ideal nature demanded an epic life: what were many - volumed romances of chivalry and the social conquests of a brilliant girl to her. Her flame quickly burned up that light fuel; and, fed from within, soared after some illimitable satisfaction, some object which would never justify weariness, which would reconcile self - despair with the rapturous consciousness of life beyond self. She found her epos in the reform of a religious order.
That Spanish woman who lived three hundred years ago was certainly not the last of her kind. Many Theresas have been born who found for themselves no epic life wherein there was a constant unfolding of far - resonant action; perhaps only a life of mistakes, the offspring of a certain spiritual grandeur ill - matched with the meanness of opportunity; perhaps a tragic failure which found no sacred poet and sank unwept into oblivion. With dim lights and tangled circumstance they tried to shape their thought and deed in noble agreement; but after all, to common eyes their struggles seemed mere inconsistency and formlessness; for these later - born Theresas were helped by no coherent social faith and order which could perform the function of knowledge for the ardently willing soul. Their ardour alternated between a vague ideal and the common yearning of womanhood; so that the one was disapproved as extravagance, and the other condemned as a lapse.
Some have felt that these blundering lives are due to the inconvenient indefiniteness with which the Supreme Power has fashioned the natures of women: if there were one level of feminine incompetence as strict as the ability to count three and no more, the social lot of women might be treated with scientific certitude. Meanwhile the indefiniteness remains, and the limits of variation are really much wider than any one would imagine from the sameness of women's coiffure and the favourite love - stories in prose and verse. Here and there a cygnet is reared uneasily among the ducklings in the brown pond, and never finds the living stream in fellowship with its own oary-footed kind. Here and there is born a Saint Theresa, foundress of nothing, whose loving heart -beats and sobs after an unattained goodness tremble off and are dispersed among hindrances, instead of centering in some long recognisable deed.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is really a long book about ordinary circumstances in a 19th century rural area in England. So why is a book such as this one considered such a classic even though not many particularly grand events happen?
The book is the study of the ordinary in many ways. You end up seeing how different people live and deal with different situations and what kinds of people they are. At the same time that the reader comes to judgments about the people in the book, George Eliot manages to portray most of her characters sympathetically. Even the worst people in the book are rounded out in some ways and Eliot tries to imbue a sense of humanity. It portrays an "adult" view of the world instead of the simplistic view of the child. In fact, Dorothea makes a journey during the book from a child with a romanticized view to an adult with a more rich understanding through life experience and wisdom.
If you're looking for a book about exciting events, with high drama, with a fast pace, don't bother picking this book up since you'll probably dislike it. This is a book written by a woman and expressing some criticisms of a woman's place in the world of her time. It is also a book that explores a more ordinary setting and viewpoint than perhaps most male authors of the time would write in such depth about. She brings a different experience than most male or female authors of the 19th century. Male authors focused on grander events (their characters often fighting to get somewhere in life) while many female authors showed a romanticized view of life and love.Read more ›
The way the author pulls her story and characters together is incredible, and the insight into the characters is nothing short of brilliant. To quote from the book jacket and Virginia Wolf "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people."
Just be warned, this is not a sit on the edge of your seat, can't put it down until it's finished type of novel. This is a story to savour and enjoy the multi-faceted characters and the author's glorious prose like a fine red wine or a box of chocolates (or both). If you are looking for high action and adventure, this is not the book for you. Highly recommended for any lover of 19th century English literature, not as dark and brooding as Hardy can be, but the prose is just as lovely, if not better.
I noticed by the end of the course that everyone who had previously been whining about this book had come to feel a certain sense of awe toward it. "Middlemarch" certainly demands a lot of time and thought to fully appreciate, but it's not difficult to understand why this is considered the great Victorian novel.
Most recent customer reviews
A classic that is as much fun to read today as when it was published. The formal writing style meshes well with the characters of the time. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Vinny Grette
Swept away by amazing thought & tangled story that seemed to so thoroughly reflect the large & small community of another time . Read morePublished 18 months ago by Rachel Cameron
Beautiful language! Refined thinking put into educated language, yet easily read and sensitive to the emotions and personalities of the characters. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Amazon Customer