Middlemarch: Chapters 1-14

eliotalong

And the #EliotAlong is ON LIKE DONKEY KONG! Considering how anxious Middlemarch had been making me (especially when I saw it was 800+ pages), I’ve been enjoying the first 14 chapters. I splurged a little and grabbed a beautiful clothbound edition of the text, hoping that if I had something a little prettier and special in my hands, I would continue to return to it week after week. We will see how that goes. Originally I was planning on reading two chapters a night, but now that I’ve seen how short the chapters are (some are a few pages) I’ve decided to try and read the week’s allotted reading in one sitting. I usually only read a book at a time, so if I try and read two chapters a day, I imagine I will only read Middlemarch all month. I’m planning on getting some other books read during July too.

I have a feeling that the language would have bothered me, being older than most of the modern classics and genre fiction that I read. However, the last book I was reading was Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne, and so Middlemarch is like a breath of fresh air. So, the language hasn’t been giving me any trouble. Some of the references to literature, people and events of the time fly over my head (even with the short notes section), and so I found myself doing some googling while reading.

The characters of Middlemarch are interesting and intriguing, and the way that George Eliot introduces characters is subtle and interesting. The first book is Miss Brooke, and through her and Celia, her sister, we are introduced to characters that they know and then the characters they know, and it spider webs out from there. I was worried that I wouldn’t like Dorothea, but I came to enjoy Dodo and her over-earnestness. I really liked Mr. Brooke, and one of his lines of dialogue really caught me: ‘The fact is, I never loved anyone well enough to put myself into a noose for them.‘ p. 41.

There are touches of humour through Middlemarch too, for example when Sir James talks to Mrs Cadwallander about the proposal between Casaubon and Dodo, and Sir James says, ‘He has one foot in the grave.’ And Cadwallander responds with, ‘He means to draw it out again, I suppose.‘ p. 58. These touches of humour, of characters bitching about one another to each other.

I’m looking forward to finding out more about the characters and town of Middlemarch, I’m invested in reading on and getting to know who else is involved. I’m considering forming a character sheet though, because I’m worried that the amount of characters is getting out of hand.

Some other favourite quotes from Middlemarch so far include:

‘You don’t understand women. They don’t admire you half as much as you admire yourselves.’ p. 69

Now I wish her joy of her hair shirt.’ – p. 61

Pride helps us; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our own hurts – not to hurt others.‘ p.62

How is everyone else going with your readalong? Anyone really struggling or disliking it? Do you guys think we are going to have some kick ass female characters in Middlemarch, or is Eliot going to provide us with some wallflowers?

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3 comments

  1. That’s hilarious that the reading is easier for you because you just read Tristam Shandy. 🙂 That line you selected about a noose (by Mr. Brooke) is gold. I haven’t reached that place in the novel yet. I’m only on page 30, but I’ve joined this event. Hopefully I can keep up, though I’m clearly straggling already! I like it a lot so far though.

    1. Completely missed your comment, Jillian! I’m still enjoying Middlemarch, how are you finding it? Have you managed to catch up? I’m a tiny bit behind myself. Also, perchance do you have an email address that I can contact you on? I’d like to extract some personal information from you. 🙂

      1. I’m loving it so far! Some of the references to Latin and such go over my head, but I’m following the general gist. My favorite character is the narrator. 🙂

        I’m actually only just getting back to the novel. I wanted to finish up a couple other books, and read “My Life in Middlemarch” by Rebecca Mead (EXCELLENT), and I read “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists” by Eliot. So I set Middlemarch aside for a couple weeks.

        I’ll send my info on Goodreads (pm), in just a sec…

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