George Eliot: Middlemarch

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jserraglio
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Joined: Sun May 29, 2005 7:06 am
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

George Eliot: Middlemarch

Post by jserraglio » Sat Oct 29, 2022 8:51 am

Revisited after a half century. And well, it's still great.

I love her narrative intrusions and her wit. A cross between Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde.
Rebecca Mead wrote:Eliot admired Austen: she and Lewes read Austen’s novels aloud to each other in 1857, when she was embarking upon her own first effort at fiction—the stories that became “Scenes of Clerical Life.” But George Eliot, as she became known when that collection was published, went on to surpass her precursor. She is as adept as Austen at the ironic depiction of high and middle-class society: Mr. Brooke, Dorothea’s muddle-headed uncle, is a not too distant cousin of Mr. Bennet; and Mrs. Vincy, the exquisitely banal mother of Rosamond, might easily have found her way to Middlemarch via Highbury. But Eliot’s satire, unlike Austen’s, stops short of cruelty. She is inveterately magnanimous, even when it comes to her most flawed characters; her default authorial position is one of pity. Rosamond Vincy is foolish and intractable—her husband refers to her in his later years as his basil plant, because it was “a plant that had flourished wonderfully on a murdered man’s brains.” But the sequence of chapters in which self-involved, trivial Rosamond realizes that Will Ladislaw is in love with Dorothea, not her—she is “taken hold of by an emotion stronger than her own, hurried along in a new movement which gave all things some new, awful, undefined aspect”—is a masterpiece of sympathetic imagination. A reader marvels at Jane Austen’s cleverness, but is astonished by George Eliot’s intelligence. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011 ... rch-and-me
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