Reading Middlemarch

Reading Middlemarch: March 2006

I’ve been so busy this week I haven’t had much time to browse around the blog world, sphere, cornucopia, whatever it is called. So I’ve been bookmarking items on Bloglines to return to "at my leisure" (ha ha). Gmail is down just now so I have just been to have a look at this charming blog, to which I was alerted by a piece on Chekhov’s Mistress. (That is, CM the blog, not CM herself.)

Reading Middlemarch is exactly that, a collection of people who are all reading Middlemarch, a book which I think is wonderful. But long — would I ever have time to read it again and blog about it at the same time, on top of everything else? But it is a book I enjoyed so much, for the character and attitudes of Dorothea and for the wonderful portrait of a crank (Chasaubon) — people like him exist today! I have spent years being written to by people like him, convinced they have a better theory of evolution or have solved Fermat’s Last Theorem*, and it was such a shock of recognition and humour to read about him in this book.

Back to "Reading Middlemarch": Isabella wrote the opening post on 4 March, asking "Is Middlemarch a women’s book?" She points out that it scores high as "women’s fiction" but less well on general "male-dominated ‘best novels’ lists" (oh? news to me.) . There is some preamble about rule-setting and editions, and then they are off – with side-tracks on the way, often on feminist issues. What a great blog, I shall enjoy reading it.

*When someone really did solve Fermat’s Last Theorem, it must have been a great disappointment to these people, and a great relief to the postman. (These guys don’t believe in email but in registered, signed-for-on-receipt packages.)