Want to read with me? Follow this link to view the list and pick a book (or a few!) to read along with me. I'd love for this project to be collaborative, and will post anyone's thoughts beside my own.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

If Miss Brooke ever attained perfect meekness, it would not be for lack of inward fire.

Middlemarch, Book 1 - Miss Brooke by George Eliot (Marian Evans)

Spoiler Alert: Plot Summary
I'll just tell you what I know so far.  Middlemarch is the story of an eponymous small community in England laced with intertwined romances, the pursuit of knowledge, and an ever-tightening web of intricate relations. Our cast of characters begins with the Brooke family, the friendly uncle Mr. Brooke and his two nieces, Celia, and Dorothea. Dorothea is puritanical and (for some reason) highly sought-after, and Celia is younger, and a bit flightier (if you ask Dorothea). Dorothea gets engaged to the Reverend Edward Casaubon, a sallow elderly figure, much to her delight (and Celia's disgust) (and her uncle's disappointment). We are introduced to some ancillary characters in the Vincy family, a veritable Middlemarch establishment, including the very pretty Rosamond and her spendthrift brother Fred. Rosamond is instantly interested in the new town doctor, Mr. Lydgate, and Fred must prove to his uncle Mr. Featherstone that he is not gambling with the future prospects of his uncle's will (bad karma to spend imaginary money from your relative's yet-to-occur death!) in order to maintain any access to  his expected inheritance. Our dear narrator has hinted that perhaps all will not be well with the seemingly destined Casaubon and Dorothea, but the plot is fresh yet. More to come!
Spoiler Over: Continue Here

I've decided to blog on each of the 8 books of Middlemarch. I could give you a reason, but I don't Have to - it's my blog, after all. ;) I think the book is too funny (and too well-written) to sum up in one post, and I highly doubt anyone would read one as long as a post on the whole 800+ pages would be.

So far I'm highly diverted by the book, and if anyone is looking for a witty and eloquent read, feel free to jump in and join me.

A few of my favorite spots so far:

Conversation between Dorothea upon their first meeting Mr. Casaubon:
Dorothea:  Celia! He is one of the most distinguished-looking men I ever saw. He is remarkably like the portrait of Locke. He has the same deep eyesockets."
Celia:   Had Locke those two white moles with hairs on them?" ha. that is Always what I look for in a man. deep EYEsockets and hairy moles!

Mr. Brooke, to Dorothea, on her decision to marry Casaubon:
"The fact is, I never loved anyone well enough to put myself into a noose for them. It is a noose, you know. Temper, now. There is temper. And a husband likes to be master." really sellling it, here, uncle!

On Mr. Casaubon coming to dine with the Brookes:
Celia:  Is anyone else coming to dine besides Mr. Casaubon?
Dorothea: Not that I know of.
Celia: I hope there is someone else. Then I shall not hear him eat his soup so." hagh. 

Exchange between Sir James Chettam (the handsome bachelor in town who is also sweet on Dorothea) and Mrs. Cadwallader, the town gossip and wife of the rector: 
Sir James: Good God! It is horrible! He is not better than a mummy! [The point of view has to be allowed for as that of a blooming and disappointed rival.]
Mrs. Cadwallader: She says he is a great soul. A great bladder for dried peas to rattle in!
Sir James: What business has an old bachelor like that to marry! He has one foot in the grave.
Mrs. Cadwallader: He means to draw it out again, I suppose.

Mr. Casaubon, on singing (lest you wonder why I don't like him): 
"I never could look on it in the light of a recreation to have my ears teased with measured noises."

Celia, imagining the pleasure of  Sir James' house over Mr. Casaubon's:
"She thought of the white freestone, the pillared portico, and the terrace full of flowers, Sir James smiling above them like a prince issuing from his enchantment in a rose-bush, with a handkerchief swiftly metamorphosed from the most delicately odorous petals - Sir James, who talked so agreeably, always about things which had common sense in them, and not about learning!" hagh. if only men would just Pop out of the rose-bush with a handkerchief made of petals and speak sense!

During a conversation on a rather aimless family member of Mr. Casaubon's...
Dorothea: After all, people may really have in them some vocation which is not quite plain to themselves, may they not? They may seem idle and weak because they are growing. We should be very patient with each other, I think. Thank you, Dorothea! I couldn't agree more. I'm Growing. Be patient, please!

Mrs. Vincy, to her daughter, on the imminent death of her brother-in-law:
"He can't be long for this world, my dear; I wouldn't hasten his end, but what with asthma and that inward complaint, let us hope there is something better for him in another." ha!

Exchange between Rosamond and Fred (brother and sister):
Rosamond:   Pray do not ask me this morning.
Fred:  Why not this morning?
Rosamond:  Really, Fred, I wish you would leave off playing the flute. A man looks very silly playing the flute. And you play so out of tune.
Fred:  When next anyone makes love to you, Miss Rosamond, I will tell him how obliging you are.
Rosamond: Why should you expect me to oblige you by hearing you play the flute any more than I should expect you to oblige me by not playing it?
Fred: And why should you expect me to take you out riding?
This question led to an adjustment, for Rosamond had set her mind on that particular ride.
  So Fred was gratified with nearly an hour's practice of 'Ar hyd y nos', 'Ye banks and braes,' and other favourite airs from his Instructor on the Flute; a wheezy performance, into which he threw much ambition and an irrepressible hopefulness.

Passages I particularly enjoyed:
-- Dorothea's opinion of a 'good' marriage:"The really delightful marriage must be that where your husband was a sort of father and could teach you even Hebrew if you wished it." yes of Course, Hebrew! any good match should involve some fatherly language tutelage!

--"Has anyone ever pinched into its pilulous smallness the cobweb of pre-matrimonial acquaintanceship?"

--"Dorothea by this time had looked deep into the ungauged reservoir of Mr. Casaubon's mind, seeing reflected there in vague labyrinthine extension every quality she herself brought, had opened much of her own experience to him, and had understood from him the scope of his great work, also of attractively labyrinthine extent."  yes, Dorothea, dig in to that ungauged Reservoir! what a sexy reservoir. 

--"But there was nothing of an ascetic's expression in her bright, full eyes as she looked before her, not consciously seeing, but absorbing into the intensity of her mood the solemn glory of the afternoon with its long swathes of light between the far-off rows of limes, whose shadows touched each other."

--"We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinnertime, keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say, 'Oh, nothing!' Pride helps us, and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our own hurts - not to hurt others."

--"Mr. Cadwallader was a large man with full lips and a sweet smile; very plain and rough in his exterior, but with that solid, imperturbable ease and good humour which is infections, and like great grassy hills in the sunshine, quiets even an irritated egoism and makes it rather ashamed of itself."

--"Destiny stands by sarcastic with our dramatis personae folded in her hand."

--Mr. Featherstone, to his nephew Fred, on bringing his sister books to read: "That's enough for one day, I should think. I can't abide to see her reading to herself. You mind and not bring her any more books, do you hear?' hehehehehe. can't STAND to see her reading to herself! how Awful!

Can't stop me from reading more Beginningapril! Off I go!

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