Excellent short review of Middlemarch by Keith Oatley in yesterday’s Toronto Globe and Mail (better go there fast though, they only leave stuff up for a week, if that). And I quote: "Eliot aspired to write about the ordinary. She searched beneath its surface to make it comprehensible, and succeeded in a way that is profoundly moving." "Eliot explores what really holds us humans together: the quality and breadth of our emotion. " Middlemarch is a generous book. It is one of the world’s great books because, between the three streams of writing (traditional 19th century, early stream of consciousness, narrator’s astute commentary), George Eliot enables space to grow: a space for the reader’s emotions and thoughts. You feel things you have not felt, think things you have not thought. It’s a book [as Virginia Woolf says] for adults."
In recent email exchange with Keith over his antipathy toward The Brothers Karamazov, my second favourite novel, we mused about likes and dislikes…I mentioned that although War and Peace is my favourite novel, I’ve never been able to forge past about 100 pages of Anna Karenina…and I’m stuck at page 300 of Middlemarch…even as we speak…
"I am shocked," he responded "that you don’t like Anna Karenina, which I think is my favourite novel, closely followed by Middlemarch … But what is it, I wonder, that allows one mind—that of a reader—to resonate with another—that of a writer—in some works rather than others? Because I do think Crime and Punishment is brilliant. A puzzle."
No doubt it has to do with early childhood traumas, loves and hatreds, unconscious demons and black holes. Unresolved fixations, infatuations, obsessions. Anyone have any other ideas?