One of the most accomplished and prominent novels of the Victorian era, Middlemarch is an unsurpassed portrait of nineteenth-century English provincial life. Dorothea Brooke is a young woman of fervent ideals who yearns to effect social change yet faces resistance from the society she inhabits. In this epic in a small landscape, Eliot's large cast of precisely delineated characters and the rich tapestry of their stories result in a wise, compassionate, and astute vision of human nature. As Virginia Woolf declared, George Eliot "was one of the first English novelists to discover that men and women think as well as feel, and the discovery was of great artistic moment."
George Eliot's masterpiece, portraying every level of society in a provincial English town, tells the story of the romantic idealist Dorothea Brooke, her misguided marriage to a dessicated scholar incapable of loving her, and the passionate love affair that ultimately brings meaning to her life. A parallel plot involves the plight of Lydgate, the equally idealistic doctor who arrives in Middlemarch hoping to bring advanced medical techniques to the village poor, but becomes ensnared by a spoiled and materialistic young woman. The novel explores the idea that the search for one's true function in life may be warped or frustrated by one's environment--but also that those obstacles may ultimately be overcome or transcended. MIDDLEMARCH, published in 1872 but set 40 years earlier, is a grand Victorian panorama--a fascinating and detailed look at English life, rich in personality types worthy of Dickens. It is also an intensely readable and gripping story, and an unexpectedly witty one, sometimes reminiscent of Jane Austen in its sharp-grained social observations. Like all Eliot's fiction, MIDDLEMARCH has a strong moral center--epitomized in the noble Dorothea--that is unrelated to formal religion and that is closely allied with a healthy skepticism about any belief system that does not include a deep and abiding respect for human frailty.
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- October 1, 2000
- October 1, 2000
- George Eliot