The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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April 14, 2019

Middlemarch in 2019

The first time that I read Middlemarch, about seven years ago, was not very satsifying.  Not the book -- I loved it -- but the way I read it.  I joined an online reading group where we read one of the eight books every few months, and it was just too drawn out. I found myself losing the thread of the story.

But along with Queen Victoria, 2019 is the bicentennial of George Eliot's birthday, and there's a new readalong, organized  by University of  London Professor Ruth Livesey, where we'll read one of the eight books every month, from April to December.  That seems much better; it's manageable, about 100 pages a month. And we'll be reading the book in the same eight monthly installments that readers received in 1871-1872.  I've always thought it would be so interesting to read one of these long Victorian novels in the way that it was read when it was first published. I won't have the same sense of suspense, because I know how it ends, but I already have the same sense of anticipation. :)

I just finished reading/listening to Book One, 'Miss Brooke.'  {I'm a little disappointed that my Kindle edition doesn't sync up with my audiobook, narrated by Juliet Stevenson, but I can work that out. I wouldn't want to miss her reading.}  I've been reintroduced to our heroine, Dorothea Brooke, her kindly uncle Mr. Brook, her sister Celia, and a lot of inter-related residents of Middlemarch. We've met Edward Casaubon, the much older scholar and clergyman who asks Dorothea to marry him. It was interesting to read their growing professions of love for each other {again having read this before}, and to see their emerging relationship, before we know what will happen later.  Even with so much discouragement from other charactrers, it seems hopeful!

Other characters have also also introduced -- Dorothea's other suitor, Sir James Chettam; Casaubon's nephew, Will Ladislaw; Fred Vincy and his sister Rosamond, the town's new doctor, Tertius Lydagate; and plain, 'steadfast' Mary Garth. 

Wonderful again, so far, and it won't be long before Book Two arrives :)


Lisa said...

This is one of the books that I've had longest on the TBR shelves. I tried to read it more than 10 years ago but gave up in the first book - partly because I was reading an edition with tiny print, and even back then it was too much for my eyes. I bought a nice Penguin, with bigger type - and it still sits on the TBR shelves. Maybe I will join in reading it this year. I've never read a book in installments before, I usually prefer to finish a story once I start it - but I may give this a try.

Audrey said...

Is it the blue one with a picture of a hand on the cover? That's the one I'm reading, but on my Kindle.
I have a feeling this will be a great way to tackle an 800-page novel, without losing the thread in betwwn readings. And there's some interesting commentary on Professor Livesey's website.

JoAnn said...

This sounds wonderfully tempting! It's only been 5 years since I read Middlemarch (a read/listen combo with JS narration)... but someday I would love to read one of the long Victorian novels as it was written in installments, too.

Lisa said...

No, mine has a landscape picture on the cover, showing a town in the distance.

JaneGS said...

Middlemarch is one of my absolute favorite novels and Dorothea one of my all-time favorite characters. Enjoy your year with this wonderful novel. I read Woman in White in this fashion and it was immensely satisfying. There’s a lot to be said for serialization!

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