Middlemarch: A Norton Critical Edition / Edition 2 available in Paperback
The text of Middlemarch is that of the 1874 edition, the last corrected by the author.
For this new edition, the text has been reset in a larger typeface for ease of reading.
"Backgrounds" helps readers understand Eliot’s ideas on life and art with generous selections from her letters, journals, essays, and other fictional works.
"Contemporary Reviews" records the impressions of Sidney Colvin, Henry James, Joseph Jacobs, and Leslie Stephen.
"Recent Criticism" collects eleven essays-seven of them new to this edition-which center on the novel's major themes. Contributors include Mark Schorer, Jerome Beaty, Cherry Wilhelm, Robert Heilman, Lee R. Edwards, Alan Mintz, T. R. Wright, Matthew Rich, Alan Shelston, and Claudia Moscovici.
A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are included.
About the Author
Born Mary Ann Evans, Victorian novelist George Eliot (1819-1880) is the author of a number of remarkable works, including the masterpiece Middlemarch.
Bert G. Hornback is emeritus professor of English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he received two university awards for distinguished teaching. Since 1992, he is professor of humanities at Bellarmine College in Louisville. He is the author of five books on nineteenth-century English fiction, past president of the Dickens Society, and director of the Center for the Advancement of Peripheral Thought.
Read an Excerpt
WHO that cares much to know the history of man, and how the mysterious mixture behaves under the varying experiments of Time, has not dwelt, at least briefly, on the life of Saint Theresa,' has not smiled with some gentleness at the thought of the little girl walking forth one morning hand - in - hand with her still smaller brother, to go and seek martyrdom in the country of the Moors? Out they toddled from rugged Avila, wide - eyed and helpless - looking as two fawns, but with human hearts, already beating to a national idea; until domestic reality met them in the shape of uncles, and turned them back from their great resolve. That child - pilgrimage was a fit beginning. Theresa's passionate, ideal nature demanded an epic life: what were many - volumed romances of chivalry and the social conquests of a brilliant girl to her. Her flame quickly burned up that light fuel; and, fed from within, soared after some illimitable satisfaction, some object which would never justify weariness, which would reconcile self - despair with the rapturous consciousness of life beyond self. She found her epos in the reform of a religious order.
That Spanish woman who lived three hundred years ago was certainly not the last of her kind. Many Theresas have been born who found for themselves no epic life wherein there was a constant unfolding of far - resonant action; perhaps only a life of mistakes, the offspring of a certain spiritual grandeur ill - matched with the meanness of opportunity; perhaps a tragic failure which found no sacred poet and sank unwept into oblivion. With dim lights and tangled circumstance they tried to shape their thought and deed in noble agreement; but after all, to common eyestheir struggles seemed mere inconsistency and formlessness; for these later - born Theresas were helped by no coherent social faith and order which could perform the function of knowledge for the ardently willing soul. Their ardour alternated between a vague ideal and the common yearning of womanhood; so that the one was disapproved as extravagance, and the other condemned as a lapse.
Some have felt that these blundering lives are due to the inconvenient indefiniteness with which the Supreme Power has fashioned the natures of women: if there were one level of feminine incompetence as strict as the ability to count three and no more, the social lot of women might be treated with scientific certitude. Meanwhile the indefiniteness remains, and the limits of variation are really much wider than any one would imagine from the sameness of women's coiffure and the favourite love - stories in prose and verse. Here and there a cygnet is reared uneasily among the ducklings in the brown pond, and never finds the living stream in fellowship with its own oary-footed kind. Here and there is born a Saint Theresa, foundress of nothing, whose loving heart -beats and sobs after an unattained goodness tremble off and are dispersed among hindrances, instead of centering in some long recognisable deed.
From the Paperback edition.
What People are Saying About This
It is a hugely ambitious, hugely successful, wise, and satisfying work. I never reread it without discovering something I hadn't noticed before.
Reading Group Guide
About the Book:One of the most accomplished and prominent novels of the Victorian era, Middlemarch is an unsurpassed portrait of nineteenth-century English provincial life. Dorothea Brooke is a young woman of fervent ideals who yearns to effect social change yet faces resistance from the society she inhabits. In this epic in a small landscape, Eliot's large cast of precisely delineated characters and the rich tapestry of their stories result in a wise, compassionate, and astute vision of human nature. As Virginia Woolf declared, George Eliot "was one of the first English novelists to discover that men and women think as well as feel, and the discovery was of great artistic moment."Discussion Questions:
Question: Discuss the relationship between religious and secular, spiritual and worldly, in the novel. Is it conflicted or not? Why?
Question: What is Eliot's view of ambition in its different forms - social, intellectual, political? How is this evident in the novel?
Question: In her introduction, A. S. Byatt contends that Eliot was "the great English novelist of ideas." How do you interpret this? How do you think ideas - human thought - inform the plot of Middlemarch?
Question: George Eliot is a pseudonym for Mary Ann Evans. How does Eliot's femaleness - and her concealing of it - add resonance to the novel, if at all? Do you see Dorothea's character differently in this regard? Do you see Middlemarch as a "women's" novel?
Question: Middlemarch was originally published in serial form, a single book at a time. What kinds of concerns affected Eliot's narrative in this regard? How do these discrete segments differ from the whole?
Question: Discuss the convention of marriage in the novel. Do you feel it ultimately restricts the characters? Or is it the novel's provincial setting that proves more oppressive?
Question: Discuss the metaphor of Dorothea as St. Theresa. What is Eliot saying here?