Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life by George Eliot

Rating 4/5

It took me 400 pages to stop despairing I'd never be able to finish this book, and then the closer I got to the end, the more I didn't ever want it to be finished. I can't rightly say whether this is because the book got better as it went, or whether I just got better at reading it. I was so disappointed in myself for the first half of the book, knowing that this was supposed to be such a great story and not enjoying it. Every fifth (run-on) sentence in the first half had me rereading it several times, and not always successfully divining its meaning. Some of this was due to my complete lack of knowledge about British politics of the era, but sometimes I just couldn't figure out what the hell Eliot was getting at. Which was pretty sad for me since it's not like I'm unfamiliar with classic English literature. But I found things much easier going and indeed engrossing during the second half, and finally (with relief) can say that I "get it" about this book. While I'm still not sure that the effusive amount of detail about what was going on in the characters' minds was all of it necessary (obviously no writer back then had been taught to "show, not tell"), I can see what it - eventually - added to the book. It takes awhile, but at length we become intensely emotionally invested in the characters' fortunes, which for me is the sign of a great story.

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