I’m making it easy on myself today and am reposting a review of this wonderful book that I did for another blog. The reason I want it on both websites is because Middlemarch is about a place, a place that author George Eliot knew. Her book is part of the canon of English literature because of her beautiful writing style, her human insight, and many other reasons known to English students. The purpose of this blog, The Art of Place, is to illustrate and give examples of the impact of art and place on the human being, the human soul. Middlemarch can have an impact.
Oh, if only we could all see and accept the people around us as Eliot sees her characters, the good folks of Middlemarch. We, the readers, grow to accept and appreciate the flaws and strengths of each member of the community, usually feeling quite alone, as they struggle with their individual challenges. I grew to know these characters, to consider them friends. As I looked into their eyes, focusing on the motes that Eliot unapologetically floated before me, my inner eye cleared and I could see reflected there the beams in my generally used eye.
How should I classify this book? On which goodreads shelf do I put it? Do I put it on simply books that I have read? Does it become one of my life-changing books? Was it for sheer enjoyment? Middlemarch can be much more than a mere read for a rainy day or enjoyment for a few undisturbed moments. George Eliot is a master — I guess that’s why this is often required reading in university courses. It should not, however, be required reading only for Humanities or English Literature courses but could be text for Sociology (how to get along with your neighbor), Community Development (how to build strong communities), Personal Finance (live within your means), Political Science (how to disagree without being hateful), and Religion (faith, hope and charity).
Middlemarch is an exercise in love, the kind of love — one human being for another — that will sustain us as a society.