7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom and entertainment for all ages
This is beautiful book, as an object: small gem with golden borders and handy sized! Reading Middlemarch in 2011 seems a bit extravagant but in case one is not an Englishman and one wishes to know the language better - well, who could be a better teacher than George Eliot? And it is not only the language: the story and Eliot's cynical wisdom that concerns human nature,...
Published on 5 Jun 2011 by Juha Varto
79 of 82 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT Middlemarch-as-she-was-wrote
I suppose that one cannot complain too much if you don't actually have to pay for something - but this edition is a great disappointment.
Middlemarch, that otherwise hefty tome, is an ideal book to read in e-format to save wear and tear on the wrist. British readers, however, should be aware/beware that this is not Middlemarch-as-she-was-wrote but an American...
Published 23 months ago by Clare S
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79 of 82 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT Middlemarch-as-she-was-wrote,
Middlemarch, that otherwise hefty tome, is an ideal book to read in e-format to save wear and tear on the wrist. British readers, however, should be aware/beware that this is not Middlemarch-as-she-was-wrote but an American translation. As well as the disconcerting and disrupting `or' endings - ardor/ardour - this scanned edition is full of annoying typos and scannos that no one has bothered to correct, to the extent in some places that they actually change the sense of the sentence.
I cannot even suggest that you download the Project Gutenberg version instead (also free, as all their books are) because sadly, rather than offering a transcript of the original Blackwood single volume of 1874, they also have used an American edition, published by H. M. Caldwell Company, New York and Boston. At least, however, the rigorous Gutenberg proof-reading process should have eliminated most of the irritating editorial errors.
Please, someone out there, why can we not have English e-classics in their own language - not translations?!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars faulty printing,
This review is from: Middlemarch: A Study of Provinicial Life (Everyman's Library Classics) (Hardcover)This is not a review about the worth of the writing, but the binding of the book.
The edition is beautiful and very pleasing to hold. However, I was disappointed to discover, after reading a few hundred pages, that where pages 379-410 should be, pages 347-378 had been reprinted, meaning a sizeable chunk of the story was missing. Very poor quality from so expensive a brand. I don't know whether this fault only occurred in a batch of the books, or whether the whole edition is flawed. Be prepared to send it back and ask for a refund, as I am about to do.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom and entertainment for all ages,
This review is from: Middlemarch (Collector's Library) (Hardcover)This is beautiful book, as an object: small gem with golden borders and handy sized! Reading Middlemarch in 2011 seems a bit extravagant but in case one is not an Englishman and one wishes to know the language better - well, who could be a better teacher than George Eliot? And it is not only the language: the story and Eliot's cynical wisdom that concerns human nature, her short but sharp tongue when she describes our secret needs and the deceitful image we create of ourselves and believe in... well, she is the author to listen to!
There is nothing outdated in the story, either.
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece,
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On starting this you may think that it is a tale about two sisters, but as you progress you will find it is so much more. Taking in a variety of themes and intertwining different plots this book is magnificent in scope and execution, and is the nearest thing to one of the great Russian novels ever produced in the English language. For me George Eliot's characters come alive, and when you close the book you feel that they are still going about leading their lives.
If you want to read one of the great novels in the English language, then this book is a must read.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and panoramic view of nineteenth century English life,
Eliot has a leisurely style but this allows her to get securely beneath the skins of even her minor characters and create men and women who we recognise, love, are irritated by, just as we are in real life.
At the heart of the book are Dorothea Brooke, a beautiful idealist who just wants to do good but can't quite work out how; and her opposite, Doctor Lydgate, who also loses his direction in life. Both are ambitious, albeit in different ways, and both are, to some extent, thwarted and diverted. It's especially interesting that Eliot doesn't make them into a couple, and marries them each off to other people.
There are many such parallels and similarities which play out in the book, moments of crisis, for example, where someone is tempted and has to make a decision which they then have to live with (Mary Garth, Bulstrode). But one of the thing I like about Eliot is that her books don't fall into predictable patterns: indeed, one of her themes is the endless potentiality of life which can turn on momentary decisions.
For all her realism, Eliot is in tight control of her story and inserts a narrative voice into the text which draws on the specific to make general points about life.
Eliot might not have the sparkle and wit of Austin, or the gothic intensity of the Brontes, but she's supremely intelligent and not afraid to show it.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a page-turner,
By A Customer
This review is from: Middlemarch (Penguin Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)The scope of Middlemarch is so broad and includes so many characters, plots and sub-plots that 1000 words would be insufficient to give more than the bare bones of the story, and I would probably make it seem rambling and incoherent. I won't put possible buyers off by doing this. I'll just say that by the end of 'Middlemarch', the reader will be breathless-George Eliot didn't create a few select characters-she created a civilisation. It's like the reader is high above the action, looking down, able to see the complex workings of this civilisation, and further able to focus on the individual. This is a masterpiece. I must also say that the reader who condemned George Eliot for her description of Mary is utterly wrong. She is just describing an unexceptional (looks-wise) person. George Eliot was a moralist. She wrote 'Middlemarch' with a serious purpose in mind. She condemned a lot of evils in her society, and she certainly wasn't racist. After all two men fall in love with Mary, while by the end of the book the reader seriously doubts whether Lydgate (or anyone else for that matter) loves his wife-the very beautiful Rosamund Vincy. Mary is described as a hardworking and honest girl. She refuses a bribe from her employer, even though her family is poor and it would have meant security and comfort for her and them. It is in the hopes of winning her that Fred Vincy turns his life around. Please don't read racism into innocent text. No preface or analysis of George Eliots work (that I've read anyway) has ever found rascist meaning in 'Middlemarch'. I find it insulting that someone who didn't even bother to finish the book-to see if there was any possibility that they were mistaken- can so arrogantly slander an author who acted from the highest moralistic principles in writing this book.
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A view of rural England,
This review is from: Middlemarch (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)In Middlemarch Eliot gives us a glimpse of rural life in England, during the 1830's. The central theme in this book is the connection between religion and worldliness, that affects the lives of the different characters in different ways.
Eliot's style is sharp and detailed and she alternates the serious tone of the book with enough humour and cynicism.
The most fascinating aspect of this book for me are in the numerous complex characters, often driven by ambition and blinded to the consequences for themselves and others.
A beautiful book, but not an easy read and not full of suspension, so if that's what you're looking for, you had better skip this book. But if you love classics like the works of Bronte and Hardy, this book definitely belongs on your list, that is, if you have the tenacity to read this 800 page novel.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Just for Romance Lovers,
This review is from: Middlemarch (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)This story is somewhat off my usual fayre. Ostensibly it is a romance story, or rather three romance stories that are intertwined. As such it is a book I never before bothered to read as I would not want my cool macho image to be dented by the sight of me flicking through a romance! But I managed to get a copy for my e-reader from "Manybooks" and thus read it in secret!
And I am very glad I did so. Of course, this is a classic so the judgement of history is already there as to the worth of this book, and nothing I add here can change that. Without a doubt this is a book that can be read and enjoyed by many many people. What I can add to this is that it can also be enjoyed by people who do not go in for icky romances! And the reason I can say that is that the real strength of this story does not lie in the romances themselves, but in the wonderful observation ad depiction of life in the 1830s of rural England.
From the opening pages where you have people namedropping Wilberforce and other such luminaries in their social circles, you are drawn into experiencing life amongst the tight Victorian social circles. You see how people wish to better not just themselves but others, but are often frustrated by the cages of convention. You see characters reform themselves, and others ruin themselves. You see people who are not evil and yet do evil deeds for human reasons. You see a mirror on the souls of the characters and ultimately ourselves as readers.
George Eliot's characterisations are wonderful. Her writing is still accessible to the modern reader, and whilst she makes some use of techniques where the narrator knows all and can moralise on the reader's behalf - something you would not find in a modern work - these techniques do not wholly detract from the work, and were - of course - quite common in Victorian fiction. One plot element also reminded me of Dickens in the unfolding coincidences in the background of two characters. But whilst the work is therefore clearly Victorian, it remains very readable. The auction scene and some other scenes were very funny, and as you recognise the types of characters being portrayed in real people - past and present - you will be amused by this work.
So if, like me, you don't do romances - don't skip this work. It is well worth reading.
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Finest Novels Ever Written-A Literary Masterpiece,
This review is from: Middlemarch (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)George Eliot, (nom de plume of Mary Ann Evans), wrote a literary masterpiece with "Middlemarch." I was forced to read this novel in school at an age when term papers and grades meant more than absorbing the riches this novel contains. I recently gave it another shot, lured to revisit 19th century English literature by rereading Jane Austen and other extraordinary authors.
Ms. Eliot created, with this book, an entire community in England in the mid-1800s and called it Middlemarch. She populated this provincial town with people of every station, local squires and their families, tradespeople, the rising middle class, the poor and destitute, ruthless and honest. She crowded them together, with their ambitions, dreams and foibles, and wove a wonderful web of plots and subplots. Ms. Eliot also used her great wit to include scathing social commentary.
The fortunes of Middlemarch are rising in this new era when machines and trains - fast, available transportation - are changing the world, the economy, the politics. Rigid social codes, the British class system, is in danger of being breached. Folks are out to make a quick shilling - anything to acquire wealth and enhance social position.
Dorothea Brooks lives in Middlemarch. She is an intelligent, sensitive young woman, who wants to dedicate her life to important endeavors. She does not want to settle for a typical marriage and family, but looks toward a more noble cause. As a woman, a professional life is not open to her, nor is the pursuit of intellect, outside of marriage. She weds the elderly Rev. Casaubon, a cold, narcissistic man, thinking that by assisting him with his scholarly research and writing, she will find happiness.
Dr. Lydgate comes to Middlemarch to begin his medical practice there. He is an idealist, who has dreams of finding a cure for cholera and opening a free clinic. He meets blonde and beautiful Rosamund Vincie, who fancies him for a spouse...along with a new house, new furniture, an extensive wardrobe, etc.
A dashing, romantic Will Ladislaw, nephew of Rev. Casaubon, enters the story, as does Rosie's brother Fred, who wants desperately to marry his Mary, but is out of work and in debt. This cast of richly drawn characters continues to grow with the introduction of Mary's family, the Garths, the banker Bulstrode, friends, relations, and an evil villain or two.
"Middlemarch," a complex novel and portrait of the times, is one of the best reading experiences I have had in a long while. I returned to George Eliot's masterwork 30 years after my initial encounter - and it was/is so worth the re-read!
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little better,
By A Customer
This review is from: Middlemarch (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)OK, she does not have Tolstoy's range, or quite the intensity of Stendhal, but this is by some stretch the best novel written in English to date -- and is more than up there with the best of the French and Russians. Imaginative intelligence in both plotting and characterisation, unflinching realism tempered with clear-sighted humanity, a killing eye for detail and a complete intolerance for cant or b/s. For all that this book does not offer easy pleasures -- Eliot, to modify Woolf's comments, was a grown-up writing for grown-ups -- it is all the more enjoyable for that. It might have been written 130 years ago, but this remains one of the best lenses through which to view, and to dignify, those parts of our lives that too often get overlooked, ignored or forgotten: which is to say, most of them. And guys, arm candy may be great, but steer clear of anyone who even vaguely puts you in mind of Rosamund.
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Middlemarch (Wordsworth Classics) by George Eliot (Paperback - 1 Dec 1993)