Friday, March 03, 2006


We're here to read George Eliot's Middlemarch. No pressure! No reading schedules! No commitments! If you're not enjoying yourself, read something else!

I've wanted to read it for rather a long time but simply haven't gotten round to it. Till now.

Weirdly, Middlemarch doesn't appear on many of the top 100 lists floating about (according to my quick and dirty research), but it did rank in the top 10 of BBC's "Women's Watershed Fiction," and its opening ("Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.") is number 58 on the recent list of 100 Best First Lines of Novels.

But it's the prelude that sold me:
That Spanish woman who lived three hundred years ago, was certainly not the last of her kind. Many Theresas have been born who found for themselves no epic life wherein there was a constant unfolding of far-resonant action; perhaps only a life of mistakes, the offspring of a certain spiritual grandeur ill-matched with the meanness of opportunity; perhaps a tragic failure which found no sacred poet and sank unwept into oblivion. With dim lights and tangled circumstance they tried to shape their thought and deed in noble agreement; but after all, to common eyes their struggles seemed mere inconsistency and formlessness; for these later-born Theresas were helped by no coherent social faith and order which could perform the function of knowledge for the ardently willing soul. Their ardor alternated between a vague ideal and the common yearning of womanhood; so that the one was disapproved as extravagance, and the other condemned as a lapse.

Am I a Theresa? Are you?

At this point, I expect I'll be posting my thoughts as they occur to me, perhaps as I digest chapter by chapter. Feel free to respond, ask questions, summarize your own readings, post links to background material — whatever works for you.

All encouragement, questions, comments, clarifications, insight, and theses welcome!

(Email me, or leave a comment below, for group-blog membership allowing you to post your own entries.)


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