Monday, January 26, 2009

Meeting of the Minds...what's left of them.

We met Saturday evening to discuss the epic Middlemarch. Present were 6 members.

Only a small number of us made it all the way through (the small number being 2?). Others did one of the following: watched the 7 hour BBC movie version, read the first 100 pages, read all BUT 100 pages in the middle, or skimmed it & read the Cliffnotes. I'm not naming any names.

Points of discussion on Middlemarch:

1 - It's long. Like, really, REALLY long.
2 - We debated George Eliot's point of view on religion, since the most "religious" character ends up being pretty rotten.
3 - Causaubon was emotionally stunted. Mostly "because he's spent 30 years in his library writing", thinks Lyz. R says, "That's WHY he spent 30 years in his library!" It seems to be a vicious circle. Lesson? Get out more, people!
4 - Both Causaubon and Lydgate got married with some pre-tty idealistic feelings about marriage and their fiancee. Turned out poorly for both.
5 - Mary Garth and Jane Eyre: both plain, but also both intelligent, honest, forthright, and principled. This is why we love them so.
6 - How amazing is it that Rosamond could be so incredibly selfish and spoiled?
7- Mr. and Mrs. Garth have an wonderful relationship - the movie doesn't seem to do justice to Mrs. Garth.
8 - Eliot is known for her feminist ideals, and yet she holds Dorothea up as a completely happy woman as she becomes "simply" a wife and mother. Could it be possible that the original feminists just wanted women to be valued for those roles? Not necessarily to leave them behind?

Other topics discussed, unrelated to the novel or anything else, really:

1 - The balance of cats. Rocking chairs seem to be an especial danger.
2 - Vaccinations, and how they serve a public (as well as personal) good.
3 - The danger of mixing mothers and real estate.
4 - CSA's (community supported agriculture) and how belonging may force your family to eat new foods.
5 - The "sexing up" of the classics by the PBS Masterpiece squad is unnecessary and a bit disturbing.

Several members brought books to offer as future selections. In order to simplify the process, we decided on the following genres, and tried to line up the offerings within them.

Adolescent Lit: Tale of Desperaux and Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Contemporary Lit: Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas, People of the Book, Road to Cana by Anne Rice
Classic: Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy, Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, Brideshead Revisited
Non-Fiction: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver, The Glass Castle, Reading Lolita in Tehran
Historical Fiction: The Other Boleyn Girl (or other similar book by same author)

The reading schedule for the next three months IS:
February 20th : Tale of Desperaux (and if you have time - Because of Winn-Dixie) by Kate DiCamillo
March 13th: Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas
April 26th: The Other Boleyn Girl (or other similar book by same author - watch for updates)

The next two books chosen should be from the classic or non-fiction genres, although not necessarily the books above.

Happy reading!

1 comment:

Noel said...

And some 20 feet away from the Book Club, the alpha male of the house was doing the workbook for John Maxwell's _360 Degree Leadership_ and half paying attention to a program on health care reform on CSPAN-2.

We did the audio version of Kate Dicamillo's _Tiger Rising_ on vacation last summer and I enjoyed it. The movie version of _Winn-Dixie_ makes for a good family movie night. More info on Minnesota's own Dicamillo can be found at the MPR web site