Hey all! Things might be a little quiet on the blog front, but that’s because other aspects of life have demanded more attention than usual. I am starting a new job tomorrow for which I am quite excited, but nervous too. I had worked in my previous position for three and a half years, so it will take some time adjusting to the newness of it all.
I am still reading Middlemarch and expect that I will be reading it for some time to come. My edition is 766 pages and I am on page 253.
One of my favorite aspects of George Eliot’s writing is the way she seems intent on showing all sides of a situation, acquainting the reader with why each character behaves the way he or she does. It’s like Eliot divines what the reader’s conceptions of a particular character are and then says ‘oh ho, so you think you have this character pegged? Take another look, and see how hastily you have judged.’
Indeed, in the chapter I am about to read next, Chapter 29, Eliot starts with:
One morning, some weeks after her arrival at Lowick, Dorothea – but why always Dorothea? Was her point of view the only possible one with regard to this marriage? . . . Mr. Casaubon [Dorothea’s husband] had an intense consciousness within him, and was spiritually a-hungered like the rest of us.
Throughout most of the book thus far, Dorothea has appeared like a favorite among the author’s array of characters and Mr. Casaubon as a passive antagonist. However, Eliot’s writing reins in what may be some fondness for particular characters with passages like the one above.
There’s a kind of fairness of portrayal in Middlemarch that I don’t see often in novels, at least not to this level. And it is a fairness that doesn’t overlook flaws, or skip opportunities for satire or sharp humor. I don’t think Eliot is trying to make you ‘like’ all the characters or think that they are all good. She’s just making sure the reader understands them.
I haven’t studied George Eliot, so I don’t know her philosophies on writing: her writing may not be about ‘being fair’ or spreading understanding. It may be her way of entertainingly dissecting and illuminating the workings of people in society – how their feelings, motivations and worldviews ricochet off each other and turn into actions and decisions that affect other persons, in an ever-rippling chain.
Whatever it is, I like it and maybe my slower pace in reading reflects a subconscious desire to dwell in the world of Middlemarch for a while yet.
I’ve been planning to read Middlemarch this year for my own challenge to read 19 books older than myself. I had chosen to read it this month due to the Middlemarch Readalong hosted by Ana of Things Mean A Lot. The Readalong took place last week, so I’ve missed it unfortunately, but I’m glad I took it on now anyway. It’s been a good companion in my time of career transition.