For years I’ve had a list of classics on hand that I’ve been slowly reading. One that I’d never seen was this ambitious novel (over 800 pages) by George Eliot. I did a little research and learned that at the time this novel was published, Eliot was widely recognized as the greatest living English novelist. Middlemarch was not originally published in book form but was released in eight two-monthly parts (which apparently was the method used by Victor Hugo when he published Les Miserables.)
I learned that George Eliot was a pen name for the author. Her real name was Marian Evans. In a letter she wrote in 1868 she declared her hope that her novels would provide readers with “a clearer conception and a more active admiration of those vital elements which bind men together and give a higher worthiness to their existence.” Her command of social comedy is often compared to Jane Austen, whose works I love. When the 6th segment of Middlemarch was published in October 1872 a critic wrote, “Middlemarch bids more than fair to be one of the great books of the world.”
And so I’m reading it. I’m only a few dozen pages in but am enjoying it so far.