middlemarch, part four.



and honestly wondering about long books and their merits.

here's a sort of confession:  i'm not a big fan of long books.  i'm not one to commit to long books easily, and i'm actually intensely wary of long books because i opine that very few books should be longer than 400 pages -- the excess of pages encourages indulgent writing and/or meandering story-telling, both of which try my patience.

eliot isn't really guilty of indulgent writing; i'm enjoying how sparse and frankly unremarkable her prose is; and i think her plain style of writing serves the story well.  i also can't say she's guilty of meandering story-telling, per se, but there is a sense of inaction, of nothing really happening in middlemarch.  i'm not saying the story is completely stagnant, though, because, obviously, things are happening in these pages in the sense that people are living their lives and life moves on -- it's worth noting that the subtitle to middlemarch is "a study of provincial life," which is the perfect summation of the novel and why i wonder if it really requires almost 850 pages.

i won't say that i'm bored because i'm not.  at the same time, though, am i really excited or enthused or falling over to recommend this to people?  not really?  i enjoy middlemarch in that i enjoy these glimpses into what life was like in certain places during certain times (a similar book i think of is tolstoy's anna karenina; that's the book that made me fall in love with nineteenth-century russia), but i wonder if we really need 850 pages of it, if the book wouldn't be better served if it were 100-200 pages lighter.

the cat just made a loud whimpering sound from where she sleeps on my pillow.  heh, did i utter an offensive thought?  wanting to shave 100-200 pages off this "classic"?

i finished book four today and am moving on to book five tomorrow, and i admit to finding myself a little restless.  this might also be my mood tonight, but i find myself growing impatient with dorothea and causabon particularly, the drama that causabon's written in his head about dorothea and will, the nefariousness he's convinced himself is true, never mind that it's built entirely on his assumptions and presumptions.  i'm also impatient with dorothea's supposed meekness, the ways she simply swallows her unhappiness or discontentment or irritation at her husband's coldness, and she's clearly got a head of her own, so i want her to say something instead of sitting in her boudoir and letting herself be taken by small gestures.  (and i keep coming back to dorothea and causabon because the books keep ending on them, so they're fresh in mind.)  i'm also not that taken by the small town politics, all the pages dedicated to the cadwalladers' and chettam's concern over mr. brooke going into politics, and i frankly don't care much about rigg and his issues with his stepfather, raffles, and honestly groaned at the drama being hinted at between them.

however, even so, i'm still reading, which i suppose says enough.  i'm still interested enough to look forward to packing this brick of a book in a bag in my tote and pulling it out on the subway or at lunch or with coffee the next day.  i'm still intrigued enough to turn the pages and find out how life keeps chugging along for these people.  i'm still invested enough to care, to want happiness and contentment for these characters, to wish that they'd get out of their heads and start talking to each other instead of running on their own assumptions or ideas of how things should be.  i'm still reading even though there are still over 400 pages to go and part of me groans over that.

and, while i acknowledge that part of that is the charm of middlemarch, another part is simply that i'm greatly enjoying the act of reading middlemarch and blogging about it.  in many ways, it's been a huge comfort this week.  i obviously haven't been reading as fast as i'd have liked, but i've found much pleasure reading willfully every day and sitting at my macbook and trying to sort out my thoughts to tap out a post.  it's not like anything very profound or deep has come of it, but there's something to be said about the comforts of routine, of having something you've committed to and knowing that it's there, waiting to be done at the end of the day before you can go to bed.  i don't know.  maybe that sounds cheesy, but it's true, and i wonder if i'd have stuck with middlemarch or enjoyed it as much if i weren't doing this either.

anyway, tomorrow's friday, and hopefully i'll have more time to read.  will start by reading chapter 4 in rebecca mead's my life in middlemarch, then we'll be off into book five of middlemarch!