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Middlemarch (Penguin Drop Caps) Hardcover – December 12, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 662 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Winner of the 2012 Fifty Books/Fifty Covers show, organized by Design Observer in association with AIGA and Designers & Books

Winner of the 2014 Type Directors Club Communication Design Award

Praise for Penguin Drop Caps:

"[Penguin Drop Caps] convey a sense of nostalgia for the tactility and aesthetic power of a physical book and for a centuries-old tradition of beautiful lettering."
Fast Company

Vibrant, minimalist new typographic covers.... Bonus points for the heartening gender balance of the initial selections.
Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"The Penguin Drop Caps series is a great example of the power of design. Why buy these particular classics when there are less expensive, even free editions of Great Expectations? Because they re beautiful objects. Paul Buckley and Jessica Hische s fresh approach to the literary classics reduces the design down to typography and color. Each cover is foil-stamped with a cleverly illustrated letterform that reveals an element of the story. Jane Austen s A (Pride and Prejudice) is formed by opulent peacock feathers and Charlotte Bronte s B (Jane Eyre) is surrounded by flames. The complete set forms a rainbow spectrum prettier than anything else on your bookshelf."
Rex Bonomelli, The New York Times

"Drool-inducing."
Flavorwire

"Classic reads in stunning covers your book club will be dying."
Redbook --Various

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

WHO that cares much to know the history of man, and how the mysterious mixture behaves under the varying experiments of Time, has not dwelt, at least briefly, on the life of Saint Theresa,' has not smiled with some gentleness at the thought of the little girl walking forth one morning hand - in - hand with her still smaller brother, to go and seek martyrdom in the country of the Moors? Out they toddled from rugged Avila, wide - eyed and helpless - looking as two fawns, but with human hearts, already beating to a national idea; until domestic reality met them in the shape of uncles, and turned them back from their great resolve. That child - pilgrimage was a fit beginning. Theresa's passionate, ideal nature demanded an epic life: what were many - volumed romances of chivalry and the social conquests of a brilliant girl to her. Her flame quickly burned up that light fuel; and, fed from within, soared after some illimitable satisfaction, some object which would never justify weariness, which would reconcile self - despair with the rapturous consciousness of life beyond self. She found her epos in the reform of a religious order.
That Spanish woman who lived three hundred years ago was certainly not the last of her kind. Many Theresas have been born who found for themselves no epic life wherein there was a constant unfolding of far - resonant action; perhaps only a life of mistakes, the offspring of a certain spiritual grandeur ill - matched with the meanness of opportunity; perhaps a tragic failure which found no sacred poet and sank unwept into oblivion. With dim lights and tangled circumstance they tried to shape their thought and deed in noble agreement; but after all, to common eyes their struggles seemed mere inconsistency and formlessness; for these later - born Theresas were helped by no coherent social faith and order which could perform the function of knowledge for the ardently willing soul. Their ardour alternated between a vague ideal and the common yearning of womanhood; so that the one was disapproved as extravagance, and the other condemned as a lapse.
Some have felt that these blundering lives are due to the inconvenient indefiniteness with which the Supreme Power has fashioned the natures of women: if there were one level of feminine incompetence as strict as the ability to count three and no more, the social lot of women might be treated with scientific certitude. Meanwhile the indefiniteness remains, and the limits of variation are really much wider than any one would imagine from the sameness of women's coiffure and the favourite love - stories in prose and verse. Here and there a cygnet is reared uneasily among the ducklings in the brown pond, and never finds the living stream in fellowship with its own oary-footed kind. Here and there is born a Saint Theresa, foundress of nothing, whose loving heart -beats and sobs after an unattained goodness tremble off and are dispersed among hindrances, instead of centering in some long recognisable deed.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Drop Caps
  • Hardcover: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (July 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143123815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143123811
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (662 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I took up this book because it was on a booklist of the 100 best books written, and I have to agree. It took awhile to get into it because there's a great deal of expository writing at the beginning, but stick with it and you'll be introduced to some fascinating characters in the town of Middlemarch.

Dorothea Brooke is a young woman about to take a much older husband, determined to find purpose in her life by assisting him with his life's work, a book which is to a definitive guide to all the mythologies of the world. When she begins to suspect her husband's work is little more than empty piffle, how will she find her way?

Mr. Lydgate is a hotshot young physician determined to do great works from the small town of Middlemarch. Thwarted by small town suspicion and politics, and increasingly saddled by debt incurred by a pretty young wife, how will he cope as his life's dream slips away?

Fred Vincy is the son of a town merchant determined to see him made a gentleman. He's paid for Fred to recieve a gentleman's education at Oxford with the intention that Fred will join the Church. Fred knows the Church isn't for him, but isn't sure what else to do, nor how to tell his father his education was for naught.

These are just three of a huge cast of characters, all of them fascinating in their own way as their lives intersect. The book feels more like a documentary than a novel, and you grow to feel as if the characters could be your own friends and neighbors. Highly recommended, I know this is going to be one of my favorite books.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Yes, that is a strong statement, but I believe Middlemarch to be the best novel written in English. And English is a rich language, overflowing with worthy works from both sides of the Atlantic, India and beyond. The only novel as a close contender on my list is Jane Eyre, with its fearsome symmetry and romantic passion.

George Eliot has been the bane of students everywhere who suffer reading Silas Marner in high school. But later on, you, like me, may develop a taste for the classics and this book will reward you richly.

The story is about Dorothea, a young, idealist woman, born to a good family with a modest fortune of her own. She is a prime catch on the wife market--money, family name, good looks. Her parents are deceased and her friends and uncle seek to pair her up with a local baron as the ideal mate. But Dorothea, bookish, religious and dreamy, has other ideas. She chooses, instead, a superannuated cleric who finally decides to marry as he feels mortality and ill health upon him. Casaubon, the vicar of a nearby rural church is a good match except....he's old, ugly and what the heck is he doing marrying such a young beauty. But Dorothea, who's imagining a sort of superior father figure who could "teach you even Hebrew, if you wished it" wakes up to far less than a reality of marital bliss. And there's an added complication created by her unworthy husband that has dire consequences for the young Dorothea.

The subsequent examination of marriage as a partnership in hell is written with stunning modernity. Eliot not only creates the disastrous marriage of Dorothea to Casaubon, but also pairs, as a comparison, Lydgate, a doctor and his frivolous, vain, uncaring wife.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have had a copy of this book on my shelf for years without reading it. It was so very thick, the print so small, the pages so thin! It looked dauntingly long and dull.
But when I finally picked it up out of a sense of obligation (after all, I majored in English, and it is a highly acclaimed classic) I was amazed to find myself laughing out loud on the very first page!
Dorothea, Eliot's heroine, is SO very earnest, SO idealistic and ardent! She would never be so tawdry as to fuss with her hair and dress, or wear (gasp!) jewelry in public! She is interested only in bettering the lives of the poor in their neighborhood (you could visualize her at the fore of a modern anti-war protest). But when her sister draws her into trying on their mother's old jewelry, the pure beauty of an emerald ring inspires her to decisively choose it as her own. And she stubbbornly ignores any inconsistency between that decision and her ideals.
But her idealism traps her into marriage with a man who is not at all what she believes. She sees him as a paragon of learning, questing the seas of knowledge with fearless curiousity. In actuality, he turns out to be a cautious and small-minded scholar, drily obsessed with minor points of criticism on others works. Poor Dorothea strives to find ways to hold constant in her love in the face of ugly truth. And when she meets young Will Ladislaw, a man of similar idealism and energy, she fights to stay on her moral high ground. Thank goodness the dry old scholar dies! But even after death, he manages to poison the possibility of Dorothea and Will ever making a life together.
Around this couple swarm their relatives and acquaintances, and others quests for their best lives.
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