Reading Middlemarch in 2019

In this blog, we'll be reading Middlemarch in the 8 parts in which it was first published in 1871-72, as part of the celebrations of George Eliot's bi-centenary in 2019. Whether you've read the novel many times, or you've yet to open its pages, we really hope you'll enjoy reading in good company on this … Continue reading Reading Middlemarch in 2019


Steering Out in Mid-Sea

At the head of Book 5, chapter 44 is this epigraph: I would not creep along the coast, but steer Out in mid-sea, by guidance of the stars. This little couplet is about Dorothea leaving behind the shore-hugging life she has had with Casaubon and charting a more adventurous and exciting (sexual) course. Or at … Continue reading Steering Out in Mid-Sea

Book Five chapters 43 – 51

Death in a loveless marriage Thanks to Gail for inviting me to start the discussion, and please excuse the somewhat rambling and disjointed nature of this post. I am trying to get across the impressions as if on a first reading, with no knowledge of the novel past Book Five, and with little reference to … Continue reading Book Five chapters 43 – 51

Looking forward to part 5

I've been very strict with myself, and haven't started part 5 yet, though I have found being stranded at the end of part 4 extremely uncomfortable. This wasn't helped by reading Romola at the same time, and seeing many of Romola's virtues and unhappiness as a trial run for Dorothea's predicament. Here's to getting started … Continue reading Looking forward to part 5

Part 4: stuck in the middle with you

Bob Muscutt has already written a bit about what I want to say here in response to Adam's 'Iamb that Iamb', but I wanted to add some comments on Casaubon and Dorothea's marriage, which has troubled me far more on this reading than it's done before, and I think it's because since my last reading … Continue reading Part 4: stuck in the middle with you

Iamb That Iamb

I'm honestly not sure whether I'm identifying something significant here or not. See what you think. In Book 4 Chapter 42, Dorothea, rebuffed once too often by the chill of her husband, and anxious for his health, becomes not tearful but angry: She was in the reaction of a rebellious anger stronger than any she … Continue reading Iamb That Iamb

Chapter 38: Hypocrisy and the Judgment of Men

The epigraph to chapter 38 is: ‘C'est beaucoup que le jugement des hommes sur les actions humaines; tôt ou tard il devient efficace’, which means: the judgement of men on human affairs is a serious business; sooner or later it always comes into force. Eliot identifies where it’s from: ‘Guizot’—that is, the French historian François … Continue reading Chapter 38: Hypocrisy and the Judgment of Men

Book 4 Chapter 37: Gleams on the Wet Grass

This is a small thing: I’ve been re-reading some Ruskin lately and I noticed something on coming back to Middlemarch for Book 4 this month. So, in chapter 37, Ladislaw visits Dorothea to tell her he’s taking up the editorship of the new Middlemarch newspaper. She is pleased, since it means he will stay in the … Continue reading Book 4 Chapter 37: Gleams on the Wet Grass

Of Minds, Bodies, and Bonnets: Ch. 31

Rosamond felt sure that her aunt had something particular to say, and they sat down near each other. Nevertheless, the quilling inside Rosamond's bonnet was so charming that it was impossible not to desire the same kind of thing for Kate, and Mrs Bulstrode's eyes, which were rather fine, rolled round that ample quilled circuit … Continue reading Of Minds, Bodies, and Bonnets: Ch. 31

The rest of part 3

'but why always Dorothea?' still has the power to catch the reader, this reader, unawares. We've been sympathising with Dorothea as she arrives in her chilly home in January, with light snow falling, like Casaubon's ageing gloom that settles over everything so that, like Dorothea, 'the bright fire of dry oak boughs burning off the … Continue reading The rest of part 3

Part 3. Chapters 26-28

Poor Fred follows up his moral punishment with a physical punishment, in the form of an illness which, in other hands, might have been seen as a form of retribution, but which, in Eliot's hands, provides the next step in Lydgate's undoing as he gradually becomes more and more inescapably entwined in the lives of … Continue reading Part 3. Chapters 26-28