Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Assignment: READ.

The Book Club chose this novel way back in October, and decided that we would discuss it in January, so that we would have all of December (no book!) and January to read it.

And what book could possibly deserve such preparations? Only Middlemarch, that 800+ page glory of George Eliot. A professor once told me that if I didn't (or couldn't) read War and Peace, I should at least read Middlemarch, if that tells you anything about the latter book. Yowzas.

Have I mentioned yet that I hadn't really started reading this book until a week ago? And that our meeting to discuss it is about a week away (and we'll be out of town this weekend?!) I figured that if I read about 50 pages a night I can get it done in time, but folks, I am close to saying something I've never been driven to say before: it may be physically impossible for me to finish this book.

And what, pray tell, is my driving ambition for giving it a shot anyway? Aaron and I came upon an interesting oxymoron: the wrath of Grace. As in, friend Grace from Book Club, who has already finished the book and is becoming worried that she read it in vain. Also, she and I are some of the main enforcers in the Club of regularly including Classics in our schedule - so I'd better carry my weight, right?

So far, I am up to about page 300, with 500 left to read. I am just starting to truly become interested in the characters. The Wikipedia article I linked to earlier actually had this quote: No author since Jane Austen had been as socially conscious and as sharp in pointing out the hypocrisy of the country squires. I found this ironic, as the actual reading of the novels is considerably different.

True, Eliot and Austen both use everyday life as a way to criticize the unfairness of the caste system as used in Victorian England, but whereas Austen fills her novels with humor and romance, ending with a wedding, Eliot has so far spent the first 250 pages of her novel introducing characters and setting up situations - including marriages destined to fail. In reading the preface, I remember something to that point: Eliot STARTS with the wedding, then illustrates what happens afterwards. I rather enjoy that philosophy...maybe in 400 or so pages less, though.

I have read a couple of Eliot's other novels, Silas Marner and Adam Bede (at least, I THINK I read this one...) and I really enjoyed them. They were also much shorter.

Anyway, enough of this lollygagging. I must read like the wind. LIKE THE WIND, I tell you!


Kim said...

The Cliff Notes for Middlemarch are only 104 pages. I'm taking a break from the novel to read the notes just incase... As you know the PBS version is 7 hours so not much help either.

Noel said...

The Book Club member in our house is relying on least I haven't seen any 800 page books in bed.

MY recent bedtime reading has been the travel guides from the states of Wyoming and South Dakota where warm mineral springs may thaw our limbs and appendages next summer.

Noel said...

This afternoon three Book Club members and our cat met to view the rest of the PBS version of the book... They missed the Philadelphia/Arizona NFC conference game because of it.