FREE delivery: Friday, Dec 16 on orders over $25.00 shipped by Amazon.
Ships from: Amazon.com Sold by: Amazon.com
Other Sellers on Amazon
Follow the Authors
Middlemarch (Macmillan Collector's Library) Hardcover – May 8, 2018
|New from||Used from|
Enhance your purchase
Designed to appeal to the book lover, the Macmillan Collector's Library is a series of beautifully bound pocket-sized gift editions of much loved classic titles. Bound in real cloth, printed on high quality paper, and featuring ribbon markers and gilt edges, Macmillan Collector's Library are books to love and treasure.
Dorothea Brooke is a beautiful and idealistic young woman set on filling her life with good deeds. She pursues the pompous Edward Casuabon, convinced that he embodies these principles, and becomes trapped in an unhappy marriage. Then there is Tertius Lydgate, an anguished progressive whose determination to bring modern medicine to the provinces is muddied by unrequited love. They, and a multitude of other brilliantly drawn characters, reside in the town Middlemarch – the background to George Eliot’s incomparable portrait of Victorian life.
An eternal masterpiece of candid observation, emotional insight and transcending humour, Middlemarch is a truly monumental novel.
This beautiful Macmillan Collector’s Library edition features an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jennifer Egan.
Font is 8.5pt text with 10.5pt leading (8.5/10.5pt).
About the Author
- Publisher : Publishers Group Canada; New Edition (May 8, 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 840 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1509857443
- ISBN-13 : 978-1509857449
- Lexile measure : 860L
- Item Weight : 14.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.06 x 1.5 x 6.2 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #113,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Reviewed in the United States on April 1, 2022
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
In terms of readability, the cover is bright but easily scuffed and unlikely to survive any sort of handling unscathed. I sent the first copy I received back because it was mailed in a grey-colored bag and arrived looking like it had been used to scrub the floor of a garage.
Despite the series' emphasis on typography, the thought and care extended to this edition did not extend much beyond the cover. The font size is adequate (perhaps 9 or 10 point?) but text is printed in a serif font that may be appropriate to the period in which Middlemarch is set but which also makes the text slightly harder to read. More problematic is that the text is printed fully-justified in dense blocks with no extra breaks between paragraphs and only the thinnest of margins on all sides. The paper used is also rather thin and easily bent. So the drop caps edition does not provide a pleasant reading experience. For a reading copy you would be better off buying a different edition. This one is for displaying on a shelf.
I finally decided to read the novel after two little coincidences finally led me to its door. First, I read Mead’s My Life In Middlemarch over the summer and felt like it was a beautiful musing on a general love of reading in addition to Eliot’s body of work. I was at a wedding halfway through the book, and one of the events was at an avid reader’s house where he offered the opportunity to climb through a mountain of books he was going to donate. I found some real gems, and as luck would have it, a copy of Middlemarch. Shortly after Mead’s book was finished, I began Eliot’s. My prior experience with the author is sparse and lacks cohesion, and there is little I remember from my undergraduate and secondary school reading (even though I know I had read her work), but Silas Marner was always the clear favorite prior to this undertaking.
Middlemarch is a beautiful novel, and perhaps the most notable elements of it is the reality with which the characters, their concerns, and the overall atmosphere of life in this English country town is so vibrant and true. The characters are sublime in their humanness, and the lack of gimmick and easily reliable tropes of novels of the era is as refreshing as it is accurate to real life. The novel is a gorgeous portrayal of the transitional period in world history in many ways - when alchemy gave way to the scientific method, when medicine was treatment and not drugs, when politics was a matter of voting and public opinion and not inheritance, when women became emancipated from the constraints of love and marriage, when industry and new thought replaced old money and leisurely lives of waste, and when religion began to slip away into an enlightened skepticism. In many ways, the book is about a community in transition, growing through these major world changes along with understanding the impact on the minds and existence of so many different types of people.
In the book there are many characters, and having a little community tree with their relationships at hand might be more helpful than trying to keep them all straight as I did (I found myself confused with Ladislaw and Lydgate at times, and usually was reminded once they opened their mouth which they were). Each character’s voice and presence is brilliantly crafted, however, and the attention Eliot paid to ensuring that education, culture, and origins was apparent in their dialogue and dialects. I think the volume of characters speaks to the realism that she was intending in the novel - and much like the in-between chapters in Mariner - she is attempting to show a wholeness to reality in the book and capture the essence of it as realistically as possible. This is not as sprawling as Dr. Zhivago with hundreds of characters, many of whom are not important, but rather many characters who are all important, none more important than another.
This shouldn’t matter to modern audiences - reality in great literary writing of our time. But perhaps what makes this so unusual is the fact that this is an incredibly contemporary novel of today that was written in the Victorian era. A new mold was broken with Middlemarch - one that recognized that there need not be a direct arc or a single character or a plot trope or archetype that singly arches over the entirety of a novel. This is a period of time in the real lives of incredibly real fictitious characters - a reality that is painstakingly and beautifully constructed in the fibers of Eliots Victorian community. In a commercial sense, the book would be very unsatisfying to a commercial audience, but this is a portrait of marriage, progress, and money as the world changes around the characters, and it is a history that was likely to have been lost in many of the period’s literary and journalistic sources. She captures the community with the vision that it was an important time - and people were unsure whether the past dictated where this new world was headed. If there is any undercurrent in the novel, perhaps it is the opening and closing chapters that recognize a striking relationship to many of the people in the novel. As it winds down to its simplest relationships, so are we reminded of those the novel opened with, and as we opened the undertaking with a breath in with simplicity and a social care-free attitude toward some beautifully ignorant and simple characters, so we exhale at the end in the complexity of those who we thought so simple and free of burden as their eyes have been opened and souls chained down in the social meaning of the choices they have made.
I enjoyed Middlemarch a great deal, although I may not ever pick it up to read in its entirety again. It is definitely an intellectual commitment that requires a great deal of stamina and patience to get through. For me, it took me a little over one month to complete (although I was reading some other material at the same time). I have very few complaints about the book - and perhaps my only consistent gripe might be the inconsistent chapter opening excerpts that seem to come from sources liberal in both time and geography. To me, it only rarely added to the work and did not seem to have a linear connection among them (even though they did to the text). I also felt a little frustrated at times that Eliot went from gorgeous prose in some of the longer portions of exposition to glossing over major details in others, and there was inconsistency with that as well. Besides that, I was entranced with the wit, accuracy, and attention paid to making the most visionary and realistic novel - in a time and place where such a novel was rarely written and had never existed prior.
This edition had some illustrations, and the formatting was clean and easy to read on my Kindle Paperwhite.
Eliot, tells the story from many points of view, allowing her to get inside many heads. In doing so, she proves herself to be not only a wonderful storyteller, but a gifted psychologist with an understanding of both sexes.
The main character, Dorothea, is outspoken, strong-willed and trusting, but on a path she has set to becoming molded and compliant. She marries an older man of the church, a supposed great scholar, a man of superior intellect she looks up to, but who reveals himself to be controlling. His pomposity camouflages self-doubt and insecurity. Through Eliot’s insightful character studies, we feel for these characters, sympathizing with their imperfections; Casaubon a jealous old fraud, helpless and insecure; she, young, strong, faithful, more clever than he. Eliot brings us the inner workings of Casaubon’s mind and his torments, not only that he might not finish his life’s written work, but maybe after his death, Dorothea might marry the man he despises, a man who is young, dynamic and good looking. He has observed a growing attraction between them, and this for him is intolerable. While Casaubon smolders, he thinks that even after premature death, if it should occur, he will find a way of controlling her, and punishing her.
‘There was no denying that Dorothea was as virtuous and lovely a young lady as he could have obtained for a wife; but the young lady turned out to be something more troublesome than he had conceived. She nursed him, she read to him, she anticipated his wants, and was solicitous about his feelings; but there had entered into the husband’s mind the certainty that she judged him, and that her wifely devotedness was like a penitential expiation of unbelieving thoughts—was accompanied with a power of comparison by which himself and his doings were seen too luminously as a part of things in general…Poor Mr. Casaubon! This suffering was the harder to bear because it seemed like a betrayal: the young creature who had worshipped him with perfect trust had quickly turned into the critical wife; a remark from her which he had not in any way anticipated was an assertion of conscious superiority; her gentle answers had an irritating cautiousness in them; and when she acquiesced it was a self-approved effort of forbearance.’
Casaubon ponders his own mortality:
‘To Mr. Casaubon now, it was as if he suddenly found himself on the dark river-brink and heard the plash of the oncoming oar, not discerning the forms, but expecting the summons.’
Characters develop beautifully – their arcs moving throughout the book. I especially like the beautiful Rosemond and Dr. Tersia Lydgate, a good-looking, young surgeon, a couple that fall blindly in love. What could possibly go wrong? Their love will see them through won’t it! But then again character flaws, come into play causing readers to become more curious and invested.
‘Poor Lydgate! or shall I say, Poor Rosamond! Each lived in a world of which the other knew nothing…But Rosamond had registered every look and word, and estimated them as the opening incidents of a preconceived romance—incidents which gather value from the foreseen development … If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heartbeat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity.’
Other figures are complicated and conflicted too, adding to the richness and suspense. This is not chick lit. It’s the work of genius. The plot is intricate, weaving, twisting and turning in unexpected directions. How could life in rural, Victorian England be so complicated! But like Forster’s ‘Howards End’, Austin’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Hardy’s ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, life can be a challenge! And no, it’s not fair.
The actions of the characters revolve around love mostly, as well as ambition, deceit, greed, possessiveness, selfishness, fall from grace, and of course, money and death. Eliot peels back their skins and lays her characters bare, showing their inner weaknesses, their hopes and desires. At times, she pops in and talks to us directly, which I found antiquated, but nice.
There are gems throughout Eliot’s writing, providing insight and worldly knowledge about life—a treat for authors. I often found myself thinking of situations in these modern times and saw similarities. Not much has changed and probably never will—given the nature of man.
Through her descriptive prose, one gets the feel of the country, the rural, provincial way of life, life on the land and horses, cattle and corn. One can vividly imagine, the wrath and dissatisfaction among the locals at the coming of the railways, as land was commandeered all over the countryside for construction.
Reading this, for me, was time well spent.
Top reviews from other countries
It is a bit more logical when 'about' is mostly replaced by 'approximately'. They can meant the same but do not always: eg ' we talk approximately Fred' . Or 'dress' always by 'get dressed' : eg 'she wore a blue get dressed.' Or 'see' by 'peer' or 'my dear' by my pricey'. Eliot may have written these. I cannot check as I am abroad at the moment.
It's like reading a book in French with lots of faux amis. But this Kindle edition has I would guess about 2 or 3 such changes every page. Other examples are in the quotations at the top of each Chapter: Eliot uses them to illustrate what is happening. But the quotations from both Blake's Songs of Innocence and from Shakespeare's Sonnet 93 are changed by including close synonyms but the metre is sometimes lost.
Do you know all about this which is why the Kindle edition is so cheap.
Culled from two separate earlier stories, the main storylines are interwoven, contrasting the fortunes of two idealistic individuals: the wealthy well-born Dorothea, filled with the earnest but unfocused desire to make a difference in the world, and the ambitious young pioneering doctor Tertius Lydgate, determined to make his mark in furthering medical knowledge. Restricted by the naivety stemming from a sheltered upbringing and a lack of education to match her intelligence, Dorothea makes the mistake of marrying a selfish pedant, whose dry-as-dust research project has run into the ground. Her gradual realisation of the hollowness of his talent and the meanness of his outlook is made all the more poignant by the appearance on the scene of Casaubon’s intelligent and attractive young relative Will Ladislaw, who could not present a greater contrast in his open-minded spontaneity. An unwise marriage is also Lydgate’s downfall, since the lovely but shallow and materialistic Rosamund is neither willing or able to support him in achieving his aims.
With its web of many well-developed, diverse characters and entertaining sub-plots, this is a kind of glorious literary soap opera, by turns humorous and poignant, set against a background of industrial and political revolution: the drives to extend the vote under the controversial Reform Act, and to develop the railways, seen as a mystifying and needless threat to civilised life by many in Middlemarch. Just occasionally, George Eliot falls prey to the prejudices of her time: anti-Semitic asides and snobbish descriptions of some low-born characters such as the “frog-faced” Joshua Rigg, bastard son of the perverse Featherstone, whose highest ambition is to use his unexpected inheritance to set himself up in the despised profession of moneychanger. Yet overall one is impressed by the sheer force of the author’s intellect, and struck by the irony that a female writer of this calibre was obliged to write under a male pseudonym.
I am not sure whether George Eliot felt required to indulge in the flowery disquisitions so popular in Victorian writing, or revelled in displaying her skill in this, but I have to admit to struggling with some of these passages, not least where words have changed in their meaning, or turns of phrase become too convoluted for our preferred sparer style. Yet most descriptions and dialogues sizzle with a sharp wit which would not seem out of place in a modern novel.
Less bleak than “The Mill on the Floss” or “Silas Marner”, “Middlemarch” deserves to be called one of the greatest English novels of the nineteenth century.
The only reason this is not a full 5 stars is because it’s not my favourite English Classic.
That being said, this book was amazing. Also long, extremely long and I had to make myself read it but once I got into it... there was no going back.
I’ve been in a reading funk of sorts for the past couple of months and I’ve found pretty much everything I read unsatisfying, until this (and that’s saying something, since I started about 50 books give or take which I’ve since abandoned) I gave myself time and space to really savour this a few pages a day and it only made the experience of reading it even more pleasant.
There’s a lot of thoughts and ideas in there. A lot of reflection and a lot of realism.
What baffles and amazes me is that no matter the times we live in, the human condition never really changes. We are slaves to the same emotions, worries, problems, needs and wants.
I don’t plan on expanding much in this review since, this is a classic and there’s plenty of reviews already for reference. I just wanted to make a note of my enjoyment of it in case I decide to pick it up again in the future.
As far as English classics go, this is a winner.