Thursday, February 4, 2016

#ThrowbackThursday - Middlemarch


It's #ThrowbackThursday!! If you haven't figured this out by now, I will be posting a #ThrowbackThursday post every other week. I probably should have pointed that out earlier...but I didn't. With all the reading, every week is a little much for me...and I'm not sure I have 52 books with interesting enough background stories to make these interesting blogs. So every other week it is!

A quick update: I'm still on track to post all the blogs I mentioned in the Sunday Update, so stay tuned! If all goes well, you should have a new post every day from now until next Tuesday...which I hope is as exciting for you as it is for me, haha! Yay reading!

But I digress...let's get back to #ThrowbackThursday. For this one, I'm going to take you back to my sophomore year of college. Picture this...I'm a young English major, and I enroll in a class called The English Novel in the 19th Century. It's a bit of an oxymoron (English majors should be laughing hysterically right now)...but Jane Austen wasn't on the syllabus, so I figured I'd give it a shot. And, about halfway through the class, we were handed the book Middlemarch by George Eliot.



When you take a class on 19th century English literature, a side effect is that you end up reading a majority of novels by realistic authors. (If you want a deeper look at my thoughts on realistic authors, I encourage you to read my review of Lady Chatterley's Lover from the first incarnation of Project 84.) As a result, the first 6 or so books we read were marked by great characters, complicated dialogue, and a lack of one magical word: plot.

Middlemarch was the first book we picked up during that class that had an actual, definable story. And it was a huge topic of conversation. It's safe to say that the presence of a definable plot in Middlemarch was abnormal for the time period.

I spent 15 minutes trying to find a way to succinctly summarize the compelling plot...but couldn't figure out a way to do so that didn't go on for pages and pages. The plot centers on the residents of Middlemarch, a fictional town in England, and entwines several concurrent stories. If you really want to know the details...Wikipedia did a pretty good job, haha, so I recommend that.

The main reason this book makes my #ThrowbackThursday list isn't the plot, but the author. For those not up on their esoteric British literature..George Eliot is nom de plume for Mary Ann Evans. She published under a man's name for all the obvious reasons...the same given by the Bronte sisters and many other female authors of the time period. By the time of this book, people didn't read books by women not named Jane Austen, so instead they pretended to be men. Pretty simple. (Alright, it's more complicated than that...but I don't know if I want to get into sexism and female roles in the late 1800s...)

George Eliot is not like Jane Austen.

I'm sure there are many for whom this is not a positive trait, but it sold me. I love the way Eliot writes her characters, not focusing just on the female characters, but also on rounding out the rest of the townspeople. I enjoy the way she deals with relationships and responsibility, and how her third person narrator seems to tell the story with a glint in its eye, a sort of nudging "isn't this ridiculous" attitude that I really appreciate.

Middlemarch is one of those books I mention and it gets a vague "oh, yeah, I think I know what you're talking about"...but the amount of people I know who've actually read it is small, and mostly full of people who took this class and my friend, Kat, who reads everything. But I really love this novel. I've read it more than once, I recommend it to everyone, and it's the type of book I feel smarter for having read.

So many of these #ThrowbackThursday posts are going to be centered on unexpected classics...but Middlemarch is a classic across the board, and one I think most people would enjoy. Pick it up, give it a try. If you hate it...you can blame me ;)

Happy reading!!

No comments:

Post a Comment