Middlemarch in May: Let the Fun Begin!

A few quotes to set the stage for our Read-Along of Middlemarch by George Eliot.

BBC History Website:

“She used a male pen name to ensure her works were taken seriously in an era when female authors were usually associated with romantic novels.”


From “George Eliot: A Celebration” by A. S. Byatt, as introduction to Modern Library’s edition of Middlemarch:

“She had no real heir as “novelist of ideas” in England… Her heirs are abroad—Proust in France, Mann in Germany. Which brings me to another reason for loving her: she was European, not little-English, her roots were Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, Balzac, not just, as Leavis’s “Great Tradition” implies, Jane Austen. She opened gates which are still open.”


From “Why Read George Eliot”, by Paula Marantz Cohen in American Scholar, Spring 2006:

“Eliot’s voice, in its assumption of a wiser, juster, more all-encompassing perspective, is the ligament of her novels. It elevates them from ingenious storytelling to divine comedy…

As Virginia Woolf observed, Eliot wrote novels for grown-up people. Our society and our relationships would be saner and better if more grownups read her.”


Last but not least, let’s kick off Middlemarch in May with Henry James’s lively reflections on George Eliot, as quoted in Colm Tóibín’s article “Creating The Portrait of a Lady in The New York Review of Books, July 19, 2007 Issue:

“A specter haunted Henry James: it was the specter of George Eliot. He visited her first in 1869, when he was twenty-six, and wrote to his father:

‘I was immensely impressed, interested and pleased. To begin with, she is magnificently ugly—deliciously hideous…. Now in this vast ugliness resides a most powerful beauty which, in a few minutes, steals forth and charms the mind, so that you end up as I ended, in falling in love with her. Yes behold me literally in love with this great horse-faced blue-stocking.’

Three years later, when Middlemarch appeared, James wrote from Rome to his friend Grace Norton:

A marvellous mind throbs in every page of Middlemarch. It raises the standard of what is to be expected of women—(by your leave!) We know all about the female heart; but apparently there is a female brain, too…. To produce some little exemplary works of art is my narrow and lowly dream. They are to have less “brain” than Middlemarch; but (I boldly proclaim it) they are to have more form.”


Let the fun begin!




Other posts from Read-Along participants:

Middlemarch Has Me Laughing So Soon by Gretchen at Gladsome Lights


My invite post:

Middlemarch in May Read-Along

My Middlemarch Review Posts:

Middlemarch Book I: What are siblings for?

Middlemarch Book II to IV: Inkblot Test

Middlemarch Wrap: You be the screenwriter



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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

19 thoughts on “Middlemarch in May: Let the Fun Begin!”

  1. Here we go! Not sure what the comments, as we read, are to consist of, but I expect that will be understood as the month goes on. God bless, C-Marie


    1. Anything you want to share in response to the book. We may not be on the same page (literally or figuratively), but it doesn’t matter. And this is not an instant ‘real time’ chat like Twitter. No need to be ‘instant’. Save your thoughts, mull on them if you like and just comment here or in any other participant’s blog post on MinM during these two or three months. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am already astounded at how certain Drothea is in her thoughts concerning exactly the qualities that she wants in a husband, and how well she knows herself, her little faults and all. Also, her great desire to help the poor in their housing….all in a girl not yet come of age….so I suppose she is just seventeen?? Her age number has not been stated, but I guess those reading the book when it was published, knew the age Ms. Elliott was writing about. 🌿🌷🌿


    1. I’ve an impression that she’s 18. So far, yes, I think she’s quite a determined gal with a sharp mind. She reminds me of Isabel Archer in Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady. So let’s hope all goes well…


      1. I’ve been looking around a little trying to find out what year was considered “of age” for a girl in that era. Sir James says that she should not be allowed to marry until she is “of age,” by which time he hopes she will have better sense than to marry Casaubon.


        1. I base my answer on this statement by Mr. Brookes when he’s discussing Casaubon’s proposal of marriage to Dorothea: “He is over five-and-forty, you know. I should say a good seven-and-twenty years older than you.” So assuming those are the actual numbers, I just subtract 27 from 45 and get 18. But then again, he could be 46 or older, which is still ‘over five-and-forty.’ 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I had forgotten that! Now I am wondering if anyone knows something about the writings at the head of each chapter……Thank you!


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