"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Friday, July 28, 2023

MIDDLEMARCH ---Read-along

Nick @One Catholic Life is hosting a chapter-a-day read-along. All year he has been reading George Eliot. Adam Bede and Silas Marner read-alongs were conducted earlier in the year, but I didn't join in. Now it is time to embark on a chapter-a-day read-along of Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life. Nick’s introductory post provides all the details you need if you’d like to join in plus links to Benjamin McEvoy (from the Hardcore Literature Book Club) and his tips on how to read Middlemarch.

Yesterday, July 27th, was the first day and the read-along will finish on the 22nd October. Today, since I am starting a day late, I'll need to read the Prelude, Chapters One and Two.

With the reading of Middlemarch I'll be turning a new leaf on my reading. Long wanting to read Middlemarch  it has been a book I kept being put off. No more excuses for me. Reading a big book on a schedule seems like a good way to spur me on. Plus the bonus of being part of a community should help me over the finish line.

I found an e-book version at the library. It has a forward by Rebecca Mead. The library notes that this edition was published in connection and with a tie-in to the PBS six-part series of Middlemarch in 1994. I think I saw that series, but I am not positive. I'll see if I can find it again.

The Benjamin McEvoy ‘How to read Middlemarch’ video sounds like another good place to start for me. I understand McEvoy is very enthusiastic about the book and has high regard for George Eliot. To get the most out of my time with Middlemarch, I understand that taking notes will be helpful and will bring a higher level of understanding and enjoyment. I may find that I need to purchase my own copy of the book. I'll go with the e-book for a while and see how that goes. I may also explore the audiobook which is available at the library. A note at the end of the forward mentions that I might also get a lot out of an introduction by Rosemary Ashton. I'll look around and see if I can find that.

According to Brona at Brona's Books, McEvoy also recommends:

  1. Pay attention to the epigraphs for each chapter. They “contextualise and elevate” each chapter. Each chapter is like an essay or a thesis.
  2. Read around. Take notes of the names dropped by Eliot as well as her contemporaries (Dickens, Thackeray, Wordsworth especially his Lyrical Ballads and the “Romantic manifesto”). Think everything through with Eliot. Let it teach you.
  3. Take your time with the Prelude. It is the key to the whole book.
  4. Research. The story is set during the Age of Reform – a time when the English were wondering if change could happen without violence. Although Eliot was a liberal she was not for many of the Reforms.
  5. Read slowly, take your time. Read aloud.
  6. Research. What was your own family doing during 1871? What was going on in England when each section was published? Seasons? Politics? Current affairs?
  7. Let it “enlarge your sympathies.” Bring your whole self to the reading experience. Discuss it with others.

According to the forward by Rebecca Mead, Middlemarch was originally published in 8-novella sized volumes beginning in December of 1871. The readers would then get the a new volume every few months, completing the whole series within a year in bite-sized pieces. Once Mead attended an auction for rare books where a first edition of Middlemarch in its 8-novellas format. Afterwards she spoke to the rare-book dealer who purchased the book for over $45,000. Mead said she wished she had the money to buy it and the book dealer replied, "Oh you do have the money. You just have to reorder your priorities." His comment brought her up short and she has thought back on it often. The advice she shared next is perfect for me in this moment --

See. She is speaking to me. After delaying and deferring, I am finally reordering my priorities and will spend the next 3 months reading a chapter a day of Middlemarch by George Eliot. I shall attempt, but make no promises, to post a few updates along the way. I also can't make any promises about not whining. Big books are so daunting to me. I'll try to remind myself that I chose this. Here I go!

Dates for Read-along: 27 July - 22 October 2023

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