Thursday, January 04, 2007

Book #2 - Middlemarch, by George Eliot

I read Middlemarch for the first time when I was 19, an assigned book in The Most Boring Class of my University Career. The book was a highlight of the class, but that would be damning it with faint praise. I loved it enough to reread it about once a year for several years. What was its appeal? At the time I would have said simply that I enjoyed the multiple plot strands, a 19th century soap opera. Looking back, I can see that Dorothea Brooke, the heroine of my favourite - and the central - plot line, was a figure for myself at that time. Dorothea, a young and lively woman, through an excess of Mental Purity, Moral Principles, and misguided High-Mindedness, marries herself to an elderly scholar. In her youthful pride, she rejects the wise counsel of her younger sister, who attempts to warn her off this union - what has a Serious Young Woman like Dorothea to learn from a frivolous little airhead like Celia? With all the fervour of her passionate being, she subjects herself to her new husband, and to supporting him in his noble studies, thus, she believes, assisting in bringing Good to the World. Gradually, she realizes that her elderly husband is neither particularly noble nor good, and that his studies, even should they ever reach fruition - an unlikely possibility - will produce only a dessicated tome, a fitting memorial to the self-absorbed egoist that is her husband. Looking back, I think the appeal of Dorothea to me were our similarities. She honestly strives to live according to laudable principles; her desire for moral and spiritual self-improvement resonated with the 20-something me; but her self-abegnating arrogance and naivety lead her to choose a path of emotional self-destruction - 'course, I didn't see that at the time. She escapes, and the tale ends happily for Dorothea, but it's a near miss. I made a few significant life decisions out of similarly good, but completely misdirected intentions and misapplied principles. It took me far longer than Dorothea to extricate myself, but I, too, have achieved my happily ever after. Nice when that happens. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P

4 Comments:

Blogger Lara said...

and i, for one, am very happy for your happily ever after. :)

1/05/2007 03:06:00 AM  
Blogger Mamacita Tina said...

I finally realized what I really wanted out of life and found my happily ever after too. Maturing and having some life experience helped me finally figure out what I wanted.

Sounds like a book I'd be interested in.

1/05/2007 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

Nothing like that good ol' narcissistic projection - projecting one's own (noble) qualities onto other people and then making decisions based on those falsely attributed attributes. BTDT!

1/05/2007 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger Jenorama said...

No, I definitely didn't read it, and yes, I definitely need to.

So, what the hell did I read by George Elio? Something about a river or a mill?

The Mill on the Floss.

1/05/2007 12:49:00 PM  

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