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on 10 January 2012
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 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?!
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on 11 September 2014
Middlemarch was always one of those great books that I meant to get around to 'at some point.' I'd tried it as an audiobook before, and although I'd been quite captivated by Dorothea, I'd never fallen in love with Middlemarch as a whole. Thanks to the Open University I've had to get on and read it- and I am so grateful that I did. This is a warm, generous, flowing book- it pulls you in and it would take a very hard-hearted and close minded individual who would not spot themselves somewhere on its pages. It's very relevant too- if you have ever been concerned about any of the following: Adolescent passion and evangelism? A crises of business over personal faith? Hubris? Scepticism? How to really live with marriage in the modern world? The difference between ideal love and love in the real world, whether romantic or familial, it is all here. It is not a book to be rushed, although at various points it will overwhelm other demands in your life- it will make you sit up late. It is one of those rare books that makes you feel that you are a different person after you have finished it. Please read it and read it with an open mind; this is not a book of heroes and villains but of the human spirit laid bare and the mean every day things that we do and say are on its pages. But this is not a book that preaches, it is a book that inspires. It also feels like an investment; along with my Shakespeare, I think that this is one I'll carry with me for the rest of my life.
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on 26 December 1999
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.
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This is to come out next year in a film adaptation, and so it is a good time to read the book in its entirety. Over the years some have criticised it, and there are a few faults with it, but arguably there is with any novel. Virginia Woolf had only praise for this claiming that it was the only book written for adults and I won't disagree with her.

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.
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on 3 March 2005
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!
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on 30 June 2011
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.
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on 4 August 2009
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.
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on 10 September 2006
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.
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on 4 October 2013
Mary Ann Evans -- far better known as George Eliot, of course -- was one of that mid-nineteenth crop of great English novelists whose work still grips the reader today. Indeed many critics consider her among the best of them and some regard her as one of the best Western writers of all time.

How good it is then to have two of her seven novels in this well-formatted and beautifully illustrated edition. So interesting to compare the work that is probably her masterpiece, "Middlemarch," with the very different but also brilliant earlier novel "The Mill on the Floss."
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on 12 January 2004
I think that modern "mainstream" literature ought to learn something from good Nineteenth Century novels such as Middlemarch.
The richness of analysis of the human soul, the understanding of the sometimes right reasons for a wrong choice, the fascinating characters and their interactions, the wry notations on the failings of certain individuals (Casaubon who is forced to notice that his "river of passion" is in fact a very shallow torrent)and the splendid writing of George Eliot make this novel a classic to rediscover. The great expectations of Dorothea Brooke are frustrated by the conservative milieu in which she lives, where women are not expected to have political or social opinions. Her trials and errors in life are only one of the many threads in this marvelous tapestry of a novel, where men and women portrayed in marvelous authenticity interact, love and quarrel in one of the best portraits of provincial ninetheeenth century England.
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