i must confess that i'm a little weary of middlemarch. it's been over a week since i dove into this world, and i haven't been reading anything else, which in and of itself is pretty remarkable because i tend to have a few books going at the same time. and, when i pick one to stick to, i finish it relatively quickly.
it's not that middlemarch is dull or not interesting. i am drawn to the characters, some more than others, and i have opinions on all of them. like, i don't necessarily like dorothea, but i sympathize with her -- i understand why she deferred so much to causabon, and i get most of her motivations, though i also find her "goodness" irritating. i like will because he tends to say things out loud. i can't stand rosemary and her general immaturity, her self-centeredness, her lack of substance, and i decidedly don't like her after she told will about the condition in causabon's will -- she didn't do so out of concern for a friend but for her own ego in her own self-centered way. fred's silly in similar ways, but he seems generally harmless, though, i don't know, i don't want mary to marry him because she deserves better. i like farebrother. i don't think much of lydgate, honestly, except that he has no one to blame for the financial problems he's gotten himself into because he went into marriage with these stupid ideals (there's a passage about this, but i marked it up in my hard copy, and i am not willing to scroll through middlemarch on my ipad and find it at the moment). i have no patience for mr. brooke because he seems like a slitherer-outer, and i don't like bulstrode, either, because what the hell -- lying to a woman about the whereabouts of her daughter so he could marry her (the mother) and inherit her fortune, then, decades later, telling the grandson that, oh, i knew where your mother was, but i didn't tell her mother, but, here, i'll give you x-amount of money per year and offer you these other financial incentives now, so we're cool, yeah?
at the same time, though, i don't necessarily care. i'm not that invested in any of the characters or in any of the happenings, and part of it is also the writing. eliot doesn't linger in moments, and she doesn't really explore things beyond what is happening in the scene -- like, we do get to get inside these characters' heads and see what they're thinking and why they are or are not saying the things they're thinking, but then that's it, and we're continuing along this ride. the closest analogy i can think of is the backlot studio ride at universal studios: you sit on a tram that travels through different sets, whether it be a town set or an earthquake set or a flash flood set or a collapsing bridge, but you don't sit and linger in the feelings each set is staged to make you feel because the tram moves steadily on. middlemarch makes me think of that because eliot doesn't make much of the emotional beats -- in fact, i find the novel rather flat emotionally. it's not that emotion or feeling is entirely absent, but middlemarch lacks resonance, so it fails to take deep root, even if i'm spending so much time with this book, in this world, with these characters.
i wonder if i'll remember this book because of the sheer effort of the project? blogging it has definitely helped, though, because it's made me pay better attention and try to think about things, like the role money plays, which i'll talk about on another day, or prejudices or generally just big picture things i might lose track of usually. blogging has also helped in maintaining motivation in pressing on with this novel because, to be honest, i probably would have set it aside if i hadn't committed to blogging it. and i would still be tempted to set it aside if it weren't the blogging thing. and if i weren't so fucking close to the end. i'm on BOOK SEVEN. seven of eight! OMG.
at the same time, i must add that i have been enjoying middlemarch. sure, blogging it might have been extra motivation not to give up, but middlemarch has genuinely been enjoyable and generally entertaining. the pages haven't been lagging much, and eliot really is an insightful, comprehensive writer, so middlemarch has also been a very thoughtful read.
that said, i'm also excited that the end is nigh, and i'm sooooo looking forward to diving into other books. i can't wait to start atul gawande's being mortal (metropolitan books, 2014), and, once i get back to new york later this week, i have to read margaret atwood's the stone mattress (nan a. talese, 2014) for book club on saturday. i'm not quite sure where i'll go after that -- thinking of picking up kate bolick's spinster (crown, 2015) and still have to finish michael cunningham's the hours (FSG, 1998) and amy rowland's the transcriptionist (alonquin, 2014) -- but we'll see what my reading brain desires when we get to that point.
i'm going to focus on middlemarch until i've finished it, then finish rebecca mead's my life in middlemarch (which i LOVE -- i'm glad i read middlemarch if only because i got to read my life in middlemarch), so my last middlemarch post will focus on the mead! thanks so much to those who've stuck with my middlemarch posts! we're almost at the end! woohoo!