Sunday, September 7, 2014

Middlemarch Tweets Again

Thanks for participating in our discussion this summer! If you missed the final discussion, or just want to know what others talked about, here's another collection of tweets.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thursday afternoon discussion

We had eight participants and a cookie cake for the Thursday Middlemarch wrap-up.

Favorite characters:
Celia, Mary. Was Rosamund as bad as some of us seem to think. She did tell Dorothea that she, herself, meant nothing to Ladislaw. Was that noble or self-serving?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Favorite Characters and Favorite Books

Besides the major characters, we had votes for Bulstrode,
Celia, and Lydgate's French girlfriend (the actress who admitted killing her first husband)

Four participants said that Middlemarch is (or is now) there favorite book of all time.
Seven participants said that Middlemarch is their favorite book of the "Big Books of Summer"
Five said that War and Peace was their favorite.
Two each for Les Miserables and Don Quixote.


How important are Fred and Mary to the story?

Is Lydgate the other main character of the book, besides Dorothea?

Is Fred and Mary's marriage the combination of the self-centered group of characters and the more altruistic? Are they the hope for the future?

Is this about the art of the possible?

Several Recommendations for the BBC's version of Middlemarch

Check our catalog for
Middlemarch on DVD at the Library

The last Wednesday discussion of Middlemarch

We have about forty people on hand for the first discussion on the final part of Middlemarch. A lot of discussion about the  "Key to All Mythologies."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

As our discussions approach, a few questions:

·         What is the significance of the nature of Casaubon’s work A Key to all Mythologies?  If Casaubon’s abortive magnum opus had been, say, a survey of soil composition in England, how would that have affected the novel?

·         Jerome Thale in The Novels of George Eliot (Columbia University Press, 1959) writes “Aspiration in Middlemarch is both noble and ridiculous.”  Is this valid?  What aspirations do the many different characters have?

·         In Jennifer Uglow’s George Eliot (Virago, 1987), she points out that Eliot poses the question “why we never tire of  ‘telling over and over again how a man comes to fall in love with a woman and be wedded to her, or else be fatally parted from her’ yet are comparatively uninterested in an intellectual passion like Lydgate’s?”  What is your answer for Eliot?

·         The last sentence of Middlemarch:
“But the effect on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”  Of this, Rebecca Mead (My Life in Middlemarch) says, “A vein of melancholy runs through the sentence.”  Do you agree?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Unfamiliar words and phrases

One encounters many unfamiliar words and phrases in Middlemarch, partly because of the passage of time since it was written, and partly because of Eliot's formidable erudition. But there is one mysterious term I can clear up right away.

On page 776 of our edition, Celia says, "But see, here is my unclemin cog." Baffled, I went to the same page in the Oxford edition, where she says, "But see, here is my uncle coming."

It's just a misprint.
 - David Linzee

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Publication of Middlemarch

At the last Wednesday discussion, someone again asked about the original publication of Middlemarch. We know it was released in a serial format, like many of Dickens' works, but how did that come about? Finding myself curious to know the answer, I went looking.

Like any good question, finding the answer often leads to more questions, as well as information that is almost more interesting than the answer you were originally looking for. Having only read the brief biography printed in our discussion guide (bad librarian!), I quickly discovered that Mary Ann Evans (or Marian, as she preferred to be called later in life) was something of an anomaly, especially for her time. She first got her start writing for the Coventry Herald, her local newspaper. But it was after meeting John Chapman that she got her first big break in 1850 writing a review for the Westminster Review. She then moved to the Strand area of London the following year to help Chapman with his publishing business and to start a career of freelance writing. After several months of ups and downs mostly related to the fact that the married Chapman was carrying on an affair with her and another woman, and all three women in his life were living under the same roof, she returned to Coventry. Not long after this (and after a reportedly horrible conversation with Chapman), she returned to the Strand to work as an assistant editor at the Westminster Review (without being credited, of course). With Chapman as the public face of the editorship of the magazine, Marian did most of the work, and by all reports, did a damn good job at it. It was around this time that she met George Henry Lewes.

A fellow writer, Lewes was married, but already on the outs with his wife when he met Marian. They eventually fell in love, and she moved in with him. It was at this time that she decided to write fiction, starting with Scenes from a Clerical Life. Lewes and Marian decided to send the first part to Blackwood's Magazine for publishing. John Blackwood was a friend of Lewes', and after a few back and forths, agreed to publish (under the name George Eliot) the first part without seeing the rest. This was the start to a beautiful publishing relationship. For Middlemarch, Lewes and Marian decided they wanted to find a different way to publish. At that time, the predominant way to sell a novel was in three parts, known as a three-decker or triple-decker, and through a circulating library like the one Charles Mudie ran. Mudie, though, wanted major discounts in order to publish and sell books through his library, which was something that Blackwood, Lewes, and Marian wanted to avoid. It was Lewes who came up with the idea to publish Middlemarch "in half-volume parts at intervals of one, or as I think better, two months" (Pool 201). With this mode of publishing in place, Middlemarch became the eight-part book that we know. It also turned out to be a great way to publish, as many readers waited with bated breath for the next part to come out.

So there you have it. The release of Middlemarch was unconventional for its time, just like its author. In my search, I also came across this article, "Going to Middlemarch", which looks at the history of the novel, especially as it pertains to its focus as a historical novel. It includes some interesting information on Marian's life. Most of the information used in this post was found in the biography George Eliot: The Last Victorian (check our catalog) by Kathryn Hughes, and in the book Dickens' Fur Coat and Charlotte's Unanswered Letters: the Rows and Romances of England's Great Victorian Novelists by Daniel Pool (check our catalog). I also came across this auction listing from Bonhams (also where I got the photo from) - an original set of Middlemarch that went for $56,250. Wow!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Some favorite reader quotes

These passages and comments are from Arthur. It's so interesting to me that even after just finishing the novel (hooray!), these passages already feel fresh and interesting again.  Perhaps that is the way when a writer has true insight?  What do you say?  -Kathleen

Behavior toward others
People glorify all sorts of bravery except the bravery they might show on behalf of their nearest neighbors." George Eliot. Middlemarch (Kindle Locations 11132-11133).

(This is the only expression I remember of the opposite concept of kicking a person while they're down, but it may not hold up as a quote without more context describing how Mrs. Vincy’s friend was reluctant to criticize her.  ) The sharp little woman's conscience was somewhat troubled in the adjustment of these opposing "bests," and of her griefs and satisfactions under late events, which were likely to humble those who needed humbling, but also to fall heavily on her old friend whose faults she would have preferred seeing on a background of prosperity.  George Eliot. Middlemarch (Kindle Locations 11286-11288).

I’ve known several of these people and never heard them as well described:
She was the diplomatist of Tipton and Freshitt, and for anything to happen in spite of her was an offensive irregularity.  (Self image of Mrs. Cadwallader)

Cadwallader the rector on Brooke (…he will run into any mold but not keep shape.)

Cadwallader the rector to James Chettam : "Confound you handsome young fellows! you think of having it all your own way in the world. You don't understand women. They don't admire you half so much as you admire yourselves.

If anyone will here contend that there must have been traits of goodness in old Featherstone , I will not presume to deny this; but I must observe that goodness is of a modest nature, easily discouraged, and when much privacy, elbowed in early life by unabashed vices, is apt to retire into extreme privacy, so that it is more easily believed in by those who construct a selfish old gentleman theoretically, than by those who form the narrower judgments based on his personal acquaintance. George Eliot. Middlemarch (Kindle Locations 4872-4875).

Hence he determined to abandon himself to the stream of feeling, and perhaps was surprised to find what an exceedingly shallow rill it was. As in droughty regions baptism by immersion could only be performed symbolically, Mr. Casaubon found that sprinkling was the utmost approach to a plunge which his stream would afford him; and he concluded that the poets had much exaggerated the force of masculine passion.” George Eliot. Middlemarch (Kindle Locations 946-949).

Good psychology:
Mary Garth says: "There is no question of liking at present. My liking always wants some little kindness to kindle it. I am not magnanimous enough to like people who speak to me without seeming to see me." George Eliot. Middlemarch (Kindle Locations 1737-1738).

If you think it incredible that to imagine Lydgate as a man of family could cause thrills of satisfaction which had anything to do with the sense that she was in love with him, I will ask you to use your power of comparison a little more effectively, and consider whether red cloth and epaulets have never had an influence of that sort. Our passions do not live apart in locked chambers, but, dressed in their small wardrobe of notions, bring their provisions to a common table and mess together, feeding out of the common store according to their appetite.  George Eliot. Middlemarch (Kindle Locations 2534-2538).

Young Mr. Ladislaw was not at all deep himself in German writers; but very little achievement is required in order to pity another man's shortcomings.  George Eliot. Middlemarch (Kindle Locations 3183-3184).

We are all of us born in moral stupidity, taking the world as an udder to feed our supreme selves: Dorothea had early begun to emerge from that stupidity, but yet it had been easier to her to ima
Coombe Abbey Hotel - Coventry
gine how she would devote herself to Mr. Casaubon, and become wise and strong in his strength and wisdom, than to conceive with that distinctness which is no longer reflection but feeling— an idea wrought back to the directness of sense, like the solidity of objects— that he had an equivalent centre of self, whence the lights and shadows must always fall with a certain difference.  George Eliot. Middlemarch (Kindle Locations 3231-3235).

Mr. Casaubon, indeed, had not thoroughly represented those mixed reasons to himself; irritated feeling with him, as with all of us, seeking rather for justification than for self-knowledge. George Eliot. Middlemarch (Kindle Locations 4966-4968).

"But, my dear Mrs. Casaubon ," said Mr. Farebrother, smiling gently at her ardor, "character is not cut in marble— it is not something solid and unalterable. It is something living and changing, and may become diseased as our bodies do." George Eliot. Middlemarch (Kindle Locations 11126-11127).

Friday, July 25, 2014

Good history of England in the time of Middlemarch

One participant recommended A Social History of England by Asa Briggs as a good resource for information about Eliot's England.

Check our catalog for A Social History of England

Second round of discussions, part three:

We had 40 participants on Wednesday night, 12 on Thursday afternoon, and 18 participants on Friday at noon.

Was Ladislaw turning down money from Bulstrode a good thing for him or bad? Good or bad for Dorothea?
Did Dorothea need Ladislaw?

Is Ladislaw better off not being beholden to anyone?

Lots of discussion about Lydgate's view on science, especially where Lydgate wants the coroner to have a medical background.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Second discussion, second hour.

All forty of us are together in one big room discussing the second part of Eliot's classic book.
1830 or so was also the time of the industrial revolution, as well as Parliamentary reform. While the industrial revolution would change the fabric of the lives of all Eliot's characters, it does not come into play in the novel.

Mrs. Cadwallader and Raffles and Casaubon

Mrs. Cadwallader and Raffles are unfiltered characters who not only speak their minds, but also need no interpretation or explanation from the narrator.
Was Casaubon a character with whom you could sympathize at all? Some in our group feel that he was a man who could not live up to his own expectations.

Was Casaubon wrong about Ladislaw?
Were the sins he imagined for his cousin the sins he considered committing. Ladislaw loves Dorothea, but has no interest in Casaubon's money.

The idea of marriage.
Was Lydgate's idea of marriage the same as Casubon's?  Was marriage something to check off your list?
Is Rosamund the character that Eliot likes least?

The second part of Middlemarch

There are about 40 of us here again for the first discussion of the second part of Middlemarch (books 4, 5, and 6).
One of the first questions we discussed was whether Middlemarch engaged the reader more in the heart or the head.

 Storytelling in Eliot's time versus the modern novel. Lots of agreement that Middlemarch is not plot-driven.
What is a leveret? According to Merriam Webster's online, it's a hare in its first year.
Dagley's son kills one and Brooke discussion with Dagley goes off the rails partly due to Dagley's inebriation, and partly due to misunderstanding, mostly on Brooke's part.

Doris Lessing as compared to Eliot

Edmund Acosta, Library Board member and Middlemarcher is discussing Lessing's The Golden Notebook as compared to Middlemarch.
Certitude of the characters in their worldview, the tension between chaos and order in the two books, and thematic elements such as the rules encountered by the characters in the books, borders, constraints, and characters' submission to these boundaries.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hello, fellow Big Book readers! Following my thoughts on Eliot's deep sympathy for her characters, and for all facets of our all-too-fallible human nature, I am wondering if anyone is able to find herself or himself having any sympathy for the old humbug Bulstrode. I admit I find him very hard to tolerate, much harder than poor old Casaubon. But, as we near the end of Book VI, specifically on pages 590-591, Eliot once again shows her ability to present the most hypocritical, deluded, self-serving character in a not altogether damning light. I love her use of third-person limited narration in the series of questions Bulstrode is asking himself and, by extension, asking the Almighty, with whom he believes he has some special relationship. I think that is masterful fiction writing, and takes me as a reader deep into Bulstrode's subconscious mind as well as shedding light on my own. And it's interesting that all of this stream of consciousness presented on these pages is experienced by the reader against the totally unlikable, creepy character of Raffles. (Raffles strikes me as a kind of Dickensian character, something like Orlick in Great Expectations. There certainly ARE people like this, though he seems more like a character in fiction than anyone else I've encountered in this book. In an earlier blog post I think it was Patrick who commented that Eliot's characters are more well-rounded people than Dickens who tends to use caricatures.) I might despise Bulstrode, but somehow I want him to win over Raffles--and it's that tension that I think Eliot wants to create by introducing John Raffles in the manner that she does. It will be interesting to see how this subplot develops, and how it intersects with the plot involving Dorothea and Will.

A final note (well, for now) on the extent of Eliot's sympathy for her characters. I think she might have less sympathy for the rather spoiled Vincy siblings Fred and Rosamond. Interesting, though, that even when we can't "see" them, as one would in a film, say, their physical charm and attraction does have an effect on the reader, at least this reader. Admittedly, as a heterosexual male reader this is especially true in my response to Rosamond, who is thoroughly selfish and shallow, I think, and yet attractive because of the way Eliot has portrayed her physical appeal. Because of Eliot's incredible ability to paint the picture, I feel that I do see Rosamond, and feel the charm of what it would be to be in her presence even if I knew, as I do, how obtusely self-centered she is. As for Fred, oh, Fred, a big good-looking dolt; well, not really a dolt, but pretty clueless (I love the incident with the horse that he buys!). His real redeeming feature, it seems to me, is the affection he has somehow garnered from Mary Garth, who may be the most appealing character in the whole novel, don't you think?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Middlemarch on Vacation

Some of our librarians took Middlemarch with them on their summer travels. Check out their photos!

Taking Middlemarch with you? Tweet us at @UCPL_librarians with your photos and #UCPLmarch! We would love to see where you're enjoying George Eliot's masterpiece.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Greetings from Maine! Some may remember me from last summer when I participated in the Don Quixote read and discussions. I loved that experience and the lovely librarians have been kind enough to let me participate in the Middlemarch read, albeit long-distance. Though you have not heard from me to date, I have been reading, after getting a late start because of my move in mid-June. I can tell you there is no better place to sink into a big Victorian novel than in rural Maine. After life in Ames Place for many years (and I do miss it), I feel like I've stepped back in time here, where the days move at the slower pace of, say, a Thomas Hardy or, well, George Eliot novel.

I first read Middlemarch in a course on Victorian novels in college forty years ago. In my callow youth, and hunger to simply plow through pages, I feel quite sure I missed almost all of the subtlety and wisdom and even humor in this amazing book. Though I'm sure there's much that escapes me this time around, also, I now have enough life experience to garner more of the tidbits Eliot has sprinkled on every single page. I think I'll focus this post, though, on something Rebecca Mead spoke about in her talk back on June 4, and that's Eliot's deep sympathy for each and every one of her characters. As a young man I'm sure I "sided" with Dorothea completely and blamed poor old Casaubon for everything that went wrong. Not so this time. Not only do I carefully attend to Eliot's overtly expressed sympathy for this character, but I read into his psychology a painful expression of habits of mind that all of us, if we can be truthful enough with ourselves, fall into at one time or another, if not habitually. Casaubon KNOWS his work is a failure; he realizes that he has spent thirty years on something that has fallen far, far short of the initial vision that initiated it; and he is not unaware, at some level, that all he is doing now is protecting his and its (the work's) reputation against that ultimate truth. Read again his ruminations, as filtered through the sensitive narrator, on pages 398 and 399.

Is he being unfair to Dorothea? Of course he is. Should he have known better than to marry her in the first place? Probably, though she certainly shares the responsibility for their marriage even if she is twenty years old. Is he less courageous than one would like to think one is oneself? I guess so. But the truth is, I can't read those paragraphs without being moved by how trapped Casaubon truly is. And he DOES try to act with rectitude at all times. Which of course brings us to the codicil. Was that unfair, even malicious?  Well, yes, though anyone who has ever felt jealousy would have to have a little sympathy for his motives. And there is no indication that, consciously at least, he was suspicious at all that Dorothea would want to marry Will; he really wanted to protect her--and, yes, his estate--from a man he distrusted and even hated. (Subconsciously, he seems to have suspected the dangerous affection that has grown up between Dorothea and Will.)

Anyway, these are some initial thoughts about the now-dead Casaubon, and about a larger quality of this book--its sympathetic and sensitive portrayal of each and every character.  I still love Dorothea, but I see so much more glaringly her faults and failures, and how much harm she can do in her early idealism. Sir James and Celia are so much more grounded. And, by the way, a character that back in college I would have just thought of as almost comic relief is now one of my favorites, dear old Mr. Brooke!  In an earlier blog Kathleen asked for favorite quotes or bon mots. One of mine is something someone says about Mr. Brooke early on (I think it's Mrs. Cadwalader speaking): "Brooke is a very good fellow, but pulpy; he will run into any mold, but he won't keep shape." Maybe Casaubon and Dorothea both would have benefited from less rigidity and more pulpiness!

Happy marching, all!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Middlemarch Tweets

Yes, we were tweeting some of your comments during the discussions. Here's a round-up of our tweets, plus a few from Rebecca Mead and friends about our youngest participants!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Work versus leisure in Middlemarch

Mary and the Vincys are the only ones who truly work.
Fred sees no connection between money and work, to his detriment.

Characters versus caricatures. Much agreement that Dickens characters were more caricature and Eliot's more well-fleshed out and complex.

Discussions on Thursday (at 3pm) and Friday, at noon, this month.
There will be a Wednesday night meeting on July 23 at 7pm. And a Friday group on July 25 at noon.July 9,

There will be a 19th Century Crafts discussion / workshop on Spinning on July 9.

Some points from the Gallery group

Lots of interesting conversation at the Gallery table. Several people really like Fred, to the dismay of at least one participant. Can he (Fred, not the participant) be redeemed?
Answer from one participant--We all have the potential to be redeemed.
Another participant--Fred and Dorothea see their mistakes, but only for a flash.
On to the "Who would you like to have as a college roommate from among the Middlemarch cast?"
Celia would be okay for a roommate.
Lydgate would be out all the time, so wouldn't be bad. Fred would be okay, if you didn't lend him money.

Does anyone find Casaubon a likable character? larger group again

Short answer is, of course, no.
Is Fred really at all likable? We're assured that he grows.

Do Rosamund or Casubon have the capacity for compassion?

Is Sir James expressing true compassion for Dorothea when he insists that someone do something to stop her marriage to Casaubon?

What does Lydgate really feel for Rosamund? Lydgate doesn't think much of Dorothea at first.

Nice comment--"Kind of in love with the narrator . . . All the characters are flawed, but we are all flawed"

First Discussion-Gallery group

A lively discussion among 11 or so people talking about political theory and disappointment as a theme in Middlemarch.
Did people in the time of Middlemarch speak as the characters speak?
Wide range of speech among the characters, the Garths (especially Mary) much more direct.
Slightly idealized version of what people say, that what people actually say is much more boring than how it would be expressed in literature.

First Discussion-big group

Live blogging from Wednesday night's discussion. We broke up into two groups, about thirty people in the auditorium and twelve out in the Gallery.
I'll be going back and forth between the two groups, with stops at the snack table.
A lot of discussion concerning Dorothea. She is the favorite character for several readers here. Others don't find her quite as admirable.
Is Celia flighty and too much in love with finery, or is that only in contrast to Dorothea.
Both sisters seem much younger than many of imagined.

Side note -- discussion of the number of people attending. We have 95 or so print copies in circulation, three books on CD, three large print, four downloadable audio, and countless ebooks (you can get a free copy on Gutenberg or through Overdrive).

One attendee, claiming to be a Middlemarch fanatic, "is not a reader, but reads Middlemarch over and over . . . "-Fascinating! This reader and one other enjoy listening to the audiobooks.

Does sex exist in the marriage of Casaubon and Dorothea?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Deep reading

Rebecca Mead inspired me during her visit to really focus on Middlemarch and to read deeply.  I will admit to rushing through books and am certainly guilty over our last 3 summers of not keeping up with the reading and then finding myself under the gun to read many pages.  NOT THIS TIME! I promised myself.  I will take my time and look things up that I don't understand.  I want to really get to know this book, not just read it but really consume it in the best way possible.  To that end, I was intrigued early on by this passage:

"However," said Mrs. Cadwallader, first to herself and afterwards to her husband, "I throw her over: there was a chance, if she had married Sir James, of her becoming a sane, sensible woman.  He would never have contradicted her, and when a woman is not contradicted, she has no motive for obstinacy in her absurdities.  But now I wish her job of her hair shirt."

Seriously...what is a hair shirt? Google provides a truly frightening array of images including this:
and this: 

But I think I'll go with the idiomatic definition: if someone wears a hair shirt, they choose to make their life unpleasant by not having or experiencing anything that gives them pleasure.

All of this deep reading had me feeling really good until I realized our first discussion is Wednesday and I'm 200 pages behind.  For now I'm back to trying to catch up and be able to appreciate all of your great comments and observations this week.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sir Robert Peel, et al.

This may be of limited interest, but as I read I wondered about the many references to Dorothea's Uncle Mr Brooke's politics, and what those might mean for Brooke's character and the type of family Dorothea hails from.  There is this, for example, from Book I Chapter 1:

"...if Dorothea married and had a son, that son would inherit Mr. Brooke's estate, presumably worth about three thousand a-year - a rental which seemed wealth to provincial families, still discussing Mr. Peel's late conduct on the Catholic Question, innocent of future gold-fields, and of that gorgeous plutocracy which has so nobly exalted the necessities of genteel life." 

Or this, in Book I Chapter 6 from Mrs. Cadwallader to Mr Brooke, discussing Casaubon and Mr. Brooke's politics:

"I suspect you and he are brewing some bad politics, else you would not be seeing so much of the lively man.  I shall inform against you: remember you are both suspicious characters since you took Peel's side about the Catholic Bill.  I shall tell everybody that you are going to put up for Middlemarch on the Whig side when old Pinkerton resigns, and that Casaubon is going to help you in an underhand manner: going to bribe the voters with pamphlets, and throw open the public-houses to distribute them."

I found an article in Ebsco Host, the Library's periodical article database, which I thought might help us with background information about the period of English Parliamentary Reform which is Middlemarch's setting:

Farrell, Stephen. "A First Step Towards Democracy." History Today 60.7 (2010): 10. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 19 June 2014.

To access the article, click on the link above; you will then be prompted to enter your library card number.  Then click 'PDF full text' on the left of the screen.  

Does any of this matter?  Do we need to understand the political backdrop to appreciate Middlemarch?  Comments, please!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Favorite Middlemarch quotes, anyone?

From Book I, Chapter 10, in which many of the novel's characters are gathered for the dinner-party at the Grange to celebrate Dorothea and Casaubon's impending nuptials, and Mrs Cadwallader and Lady Chettam compare Dorothea and her sister Celia:

(of Celia) "Certainly; she is fonder of geraniums, and seems more docile..."

I thought this was a gem.  Has anything struck your fancy so far?  Tell us!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Our Lives in Books

Inspired by Rebecca Mead's talk last week, what book (or books) do you find yourself constantly returning to? How have they shaped your life? For me, the Harry Potter series is one that I will never let go of. It was the first book series that I can remember obsessing over, especially because it felt like I grew up with him, Hermione, and Ron with each subsequent release. When my grandmother died in 2005, the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince the next day was a huge relief, 652 pages of normalcy amid funeral planning and extended family. So what are the books that shaped your life? Please share with us in the comments below!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Our Lives in Middlemarch

Rebecca Mead was a wonderful speaker at last night's My Life in Middlemarch event.  I think it's fair to say that all those who attended are even more inspired than before to plunge into our Big Book.  For me, I loved hearing Rebecca talk about visiting former Eliot haunts, and, in one case, getting to hold Eliot's pen.  Rebecca Mead is a well-traveled and sophisticated woman, but this was clearly a powerful moment for her. How lovely to see that level of passion for an author!

Our readers asked terrific questions.  A (very) informal poll picked the favorite: "If you were going to have a passage from Eliot tattooed on your body, what would it be?"  Clearly Rebecca is not a fan of tattoos but she had a great answer anyway.  She met a teacher on the A train who used the following:

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.  (Middlemarch, Book 2)

The tattoo reads simply "that roar."  
The author herself, with Subterranean's Tori standing behind.  Thanks Tori!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Here's a FAQ:

No, our books won't look like these.
But aren't they lovely?
Q:Can I go ahead and check out my copy of Middlemarch now?

A:At this time, we are holding onto all of our Middlemarch copies until after our kickoff event May 28 from 5-7pm.  Materials will be available at the circulation desk after 7pm on May 28, or you can always put a copy of the book on request.
Of course you can!  Just ask at the circulation desk.  But be advised that the accompanying materials, such as the readers' guide, bookmark, reading schedule, and first-ever fabulously glamorous Adult Summer Reading tote bag won't be ready until our kickoff on Wednesday, May 28 at 5pm.  If you're not able to make the kickoff, you can always pick up those items at the front desk afterward.

Planning to participate? Please let us know using this link:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Watch this space!

We're working hard behind the scenes and counting down the days to the start of our adult summer reading program, Middlemarch-ing Through Summer. We'll be using this blog to post our reactions to the book, neat information that we might come across, and selected thoughts from each discussion. Can't make it to a discussion, or just want to share your thoughts? Feel free to comment! We're looking forward to an interesting and thought-provoking summer.

Planning to participate? Please let us know using this link:  Join us May 28th, from 5-7 pm, for a kick-off celebration.