[book review] I gave up on reading Middlemarch.

I used to post book reviews on a relatively constant frequency, but the reason I have not been doing that lately is mostly because I have been caught up in the slow-paced monster that is Middlemarch, by George Eliot.

According to Kindle, I was 57% of the way through when I finally decided that I could not stand the idiocy of the characters anymore and even though I had devoted countless dinnertimes to reading about these idiocies, I could not do so anymore.

The problem is not Eliot’s writing style or the plot. The problem is the theme of moral ambiguity, and the characters come to embody it. In fact, most people consider this to be the crowning achievement of this book (like Virginia Woolf); unlike Jane Austen’s “walled garden”, Eliot presents a world that is organic and what we would encounter in reality.

Yet, this sort of wispiness of resolve and lack of a discernable dignity just disgusts me for some reason. It is the same reason why I could not finish The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.

Perhaps it is because reality is so stressful, that this sort of insouciance with one’s own destiny pains me. Novels are to get away from the stress, not to shove it so down my throat, not to remind me that people sometimes are incapable of heroic acts, acts that allow for a greater conscience than what they originally have. Or perhaps I really do not mean heroic– I really mean acts that carry a Michelle-stamp-of-approval. Perhaps.

Verdict: Please read. It is rather a good book, well-written and well-structured. If you read 57% of it, and you still feel invested in the non-idiocy of its characters, please read on. If not, please join my newly minted club, TAIED (They’re All Idiots, Especially Dorothea).

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8 thoughts on “[book review] I gave up on reading Middlemarch.

  1. I’ve never read anything by George Eliot, so I don’t know Middlemarch really. But what exactly made you stop reading it? I mean, what precisely at 57% made you stop? Just wondering. ;)

    • I apologize for the length of time it has taken me to get back to you ><;;; I got finished with college finals and then got shipped off to China (land of spotty internet) for more school.

      ah, well, I hinted at it, but basically it was the point where the tide "turns", and it is quite obvious what the character will do, and it was in a direction that I thought was.. well.. extremely LAME. It was like falling back instead of moving forward. I don't know why, but I can't stand what she did. I can read many novels in which the protagonist is villain.. I think it's just my personal opinion of loyalty. I just have really high disgust in what she decides to do. I abandoned the Memory Keeper's Daughter for much the same reason.. the wife's actions.. even in high school I couldn't stand it. (Sort-of-spoiler:
      .
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      though I did read Madame Bovary and didn't think much of it. I think it really depends on the context).

      haha, this was a very long and roundabout answer!

      Michelle

  2. I completely understand your plight. I took an exam on this a week ago, but I too only reached half of the novel. At first I kept trying to pretend to people that I was enjoying it, so I would seem ‘high-brow’. But I can’t go on living a lie, and I’m jolly pleased you couldn’t finish it either. xxx

    • agree. just read other high-brow books! There is plenty of high-browness to go around (:

      I apologize deeply for taking so long to get back to you.
      Michelle

  3. It’s her writing style I can’t cope with well- turning over and seeing a page without a paragraph break that is just emphasising Lydgate’s character even though you’ve already understood.
    I do agree with you about how stupid they are though – there’s only so far you can try and empathise with the characters before you start to wonder if they’re mentally incompetent, especially the Vincys.
    2 weeks and only 200 pages in.
    This is not a good first impression of English lit at uni to be honest.

    • AMEN TO “HOW STUPID THEY ARE” =_= oh gosh.

      Well, I hope the rest of your introduction to Eng Lit goes better. Lord of the Rings is English literature, so of course, it cannot be all bad! Let me know if you read anything you’d recommend!

      happy holidays ~
      Michelle

  4. I can’t agree with the “well-written” bit. I read a lot of Victorian prose but, of the prominent writers, I think George Eliot has the clumsiest, heaviest and densest style. I turned with relief to reading Charles Darwin, who makes no intellectual claims for himself and has edited his words and clarified his thoughts out of respect for his readers. Oh, and he doesn’t preach to us either.
    BTW, Dorothea is not just an idiot she is a morally smug and condescending idiot with whom I hope I would never identify. There, now I feel better.

    • ahahaha, you’re hilarious. That is definitely a problem too, and I didn’t realize until now; I couldn’t successfully relate to any of the characters. Idiots.

      Michelle

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