Friday, October 17, 2014

On Rewarding Slogs: Update

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Middlemarch and rewarding slogs. Well, I finished Middlemarch. I don’t think it’s the most rewarding giant book I’ve ever slogged through, but I enjoyed it. A summary from Goodreads and my review are below.

‘We believe in her as in a woman we might providentially meet some fine day when we should find ourselves doubting of the immortality of the soul,’ wrote Henry James of Dorothea Brooke, who shares with the young doctor Tertius Lydgate not only a central role in Middlemarch but also a fervent conviction that life should be heroic.

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.’

Review: It took me about three weeks, but I finally got through this giant book. As far as classics go, it's actually pretty good. It's a lot more readable than many classics. I didn't have to rely too heavily on Google to tell me what was happening in the plot.

Middlemarch is a complex story about marriage, politics, gender roles, and gossip in a small English town in the early 1800s.

The first few hundred pages are very slow, but the pace picks up a lot toward the end. The last few hundred pages are great. There are a lot of storylines, and it is impossible to predict the endings to all of them. My favorite storyline was Lydgate/Rosamond. I felt so sorry for Lydgate. He is a realistically flawed character, and he tries very hard to do the right thing, but life just isn't easy for him. I also liked Dorothea/Ladislaw and Fred/Mary. A few of the other storylines are boring and sometimes confusing, but this book is still worth reading for its fascinating and realistic characters.

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