Middlemarch, with eBook

Overview

Middlemarch is a recognized masterpiece that explores the complex social world of nineteenth-century England. It is concerned with the lives of several ordinary people, albeit ones with high social standing.The novel is set in the small town of Middlemarch and follows the interrelated lives of several characters. At the heart of the book is Dorothea, a kind-hearted and honest woman who longs to find some way to improve the world. She marries an older academic, Casaubon, against the advice of her friends and ...

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Overview

Middlemarch is a recognized masterpiece that explores the complex social world of nineteenth-century England. It is concerned with the lives of several ordinary people, albeit ones with high social standing.The novel is set in the small town of Middlemarch and follows the interrelated lives of several characters. At the heart of the book is Dorothea, a kind-hearted and honest woman who longs to find some way to improve the world. She marries an older academic, Casaubon, against the advice of her friends and family. Casaubon tries to assert his influence over Dorthea, but she refuses to succumb to his will. Casaubon soon dies of a heart attack, and Dorothea marries his cousin, Will. But, in a final attempt to control Dorothea's life, Casaubon's will states that if Dorothea marries Will, she will lose her claim to Casaubon's estate.Meanwhile, the young doctor, Lydgate, comes to Middlemarch to start his own practice. He soon falls in love with Rosamund, a woman who has spent her life in Middlemarch, and they eventually marry. Fred Vincey, used to a lavish lifestyle but also a gambler, falls into debt as he waits to inherit money from a rich neighbor. He drifts toward the clergy and longs to marry Mary Garth. But until he proves himself worthy, Mary will have nothing to do with him.Through these various characters and their relationships, the novel explores the very fabric of Victorian society in the 1800s, showing how various human passions-heroism, egotism, love, and lust-interrelate within this society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Kate Reading...lends the prose emphasis and expression.... Reading's well-paced, measured narration captures the novel's realism—with its fresh rendering of a complex and often harsh social world." —AudioFile
From Barnes & Noble
Strangled by the confining terms of her late husband's will, an idealistic young woman throws herself into the struggle for medical reforms advocated by a visionary doctor. Considered by many to be Eliot's finest work and one of the best novels in English ever written.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400158638
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2008
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: MP3 - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Ann, or Marion, Evans (1819-1880), was the author of several novels including Silas Marner. Middlemarch is considered not only her finest work, but one of the greatest English novels of the 19th century.

Kate Reading has narrated everything from Erma Bombeck to George Elliot. She has worked for many years for the Library of Congress Talking Books for the Blind, a program for the blind and physically handicapped. She has received several Audiofile Earphones Awards: for Blanche Wiesen Cook's biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, The Last Precinct by Patricia Cornwell, and The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Kate lives in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area with her husband, narrator Michael Kramer, with whom she recorded Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Kate also works as an actor in the Washington area, where she is a company member at the Woolly Mammoth theatre, and has appeared at many local theatres.

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Read an Excerpt

WHO that cares much to know the history of man, and how the mysterious mixture behaves under the varying experiments of Time, has not dwelt, at least briefly, on the life of Saint Theresa,' has not smiled with some gentleness at the thought of the little girl walking forth one morning hand - in - hand with her still smaller brother, to go and seek martyrdom in the country of the Moors? Out they toddled from rugged Avila, wide - eyed and helpless - looking as two fawns, but with human hearts, already beating to a national idea; until domestic reality met them in the shape of uncles, and turned them back from their great resolve. That child - pilgrimage was a fit beginning. Theresa's passionate, ideal nature demanded an epic life: what were many - volumed romances of chivalry and the social conquests of a brilliant girl to her. Her flame quickly burned up that light fuel; and, fed from within, soared after some illimitable satisfaction, some object which would never justify weariness, which would reconcile self - despair with the rapturous consciousness of life beyond self. She found her epos in the reform of a religious order.
That Spanish woman who lived three hundred years ago was certainly not the last of her kind. Many Theresas have been born who found for themselves no epic life wherein there was a constant unfolding of far - resonant action; perhaps only a life of mistakes, the offspring of a certain spiritual grandeur ill - matched with the meanness of opportunity; perhaps a tragic failure which found no sacred poet and sank unwept into oblivion. With dim lights and tangled circumstance they tried to shape their thought and deed in noble agreement; but after all, to common eyestheir struggles seemed mere inconsistency and formlessness; for these later - born Theresas were helped by no coherent social faith and order which could perform the function of knowledge for the ardently willing soul. Their ardour alternated between a vague ideal and the common yearning of womanhood; so that the one was disapproved as extravagance, and the other condemned as a lapse.
Some have felt that these blundering lives are due to the inconvenient indefiniteness with which the Supreme Power has fashioned the natures of women: if there were one level of feminine incompetence as strict as the ability to count three and no more, the social lot of women might be treated with scientific certitude. Meanwhile the indefiniteness remains, and the limits of variation are really much wider than any one would imagine from the sameness of women's coiffure and the favourite love - stories in prose and verse. Here and there a cygnet is reared uneasily among the ducklings in the brown pond, and never finds the living stream in fellowship with its own oary-footed kind. Here and there is born a Saint Theresa, foundress of nothing, whose loving heart -beats and sobs after an unattained goodness tremble off and are dispersed among hindrances, instead of centering in some long recognisable deed.


From the Paperback edition.

Copyright 2000 by George Eliot
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Table of Contents

1. The context of the novel;
2. The method of Middlemarch;
3. Middlemarch and the art of living well;
4. Gender and generation;
5. The afterlife of a masterpiece.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Discuss the relationship between religious and secular, spiritual and worldly, in the novel. Is it conflicted or not? Why?

2. What is Eliot's view of ambition in its different forms-social, intellectual, political? How is this evident in the novel?

3. In her introduction, A. S. Byatt contends that Eliot was "the great English novelist of ideas." How do you interpret this? How do you think ideas-human thought-inform the plot of Middlemarch?

4. George Eliot is a pseudonym for Mary Ann Evans. How does Eliot's femaleness-and her concealing of it-add resonance to the novel, if at all? Do you see Dorothea's character differently in this regard? Do you see Middlemarch as a "women's" novel?

5. Middlemarch was originally published in serial form, a single book at a time. What kinds of concerns affected Eliot's narrative in this regard? How do these discrete segments differ from the whole?

6. Discuss the convention of marriage in the novel. Do you feel it ultimately restricts the characters? Or is it the novel's provincial setting that proves more oppressive?

7. Discuss the metaphor of Dorothea as St. Theresa. What is Eliot saying here?

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