Thursday, December 20, 2007

MIDDLEMARCH by George Eliot

The Book: George Eliot, MIDDLEMARCH. Penguin Popular Classics paperback, 1994 (second printing). Good condition, spine is creased. Previous owner's name ("H. Ureychhill"?) written on front flyleaf.
First read: 1996
Owned since: 1996

I have a bad feeling that I was supposed to return this book to someone, a long time ago. Sue (Schulz), is it yours? I'm pretty sure that I read it in London in 1996, or immediately after that trip, at Sue's recommendation. Or it might have been Carla's... or maybe SueLin's... if you remember recommending this book to me, please speak up.

In any case, it's a book all young women should read, and I might bring it down with me to pass it on to Claire at Christmas. Dorothea Brooke, brilliant and headstrong, marries the Reverend Edward Casaubon believing him to be a gifted scholar who will let her be his apprentice and partner. Instead, he turns out to be a small-minded, stuffy man who neither understands nor appreciates Dorothea. Rebuffed, Dorothea forms a friendship with Casaubon's ne'er-do-well cousin, Will Ladislaw.

When Casaubon dies, Dorothea inherits his estate -- on the condition that she never marry Ladislaw. She does good works that bring her into contact with an idealistic young doctor, Tertius Lydgate. It is obvious to the reader that these two belong together, but it's not obvious to them, and they proceed to make decisions contrary to their own best interests. Dorothea does eventually choose Ladislaw over her inheritance, and Lydgate makes a ruinous marriage to a local belle. Both wind up in London, far from the town (Middlemarch) they had hoped to improve.

This is a woeful oversimplification of a book that runs (in this edition) 795 pages and includes dozens of characters. It's a panoramic look at Victorian society, and particularly at the dilemma of the intelligent woman who does not want to live as a spinster.

We're getting more snow, and I've just come in from shoveling -- a Sisyphean activity, since the deck is already covered again. It is pretty, though. I might go out later and take some pictures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

MIDDLEMARCH may well be mine (though I usually write my name in the front and where and when I bought it/someone gave it to me). Either way, keep it and enjoy it and remember London...
Merry Christmas and drive safely.