Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Intro: Middlemarch by George Eliot


CHAPTER 1
Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to Italian painters; and her profile as well as her stature and bearing seemed to gain the more dignity from her plain garments, which by the side of provincial fashion gave her the impressiveness of a fine quotation from the Bible,—or from one of our elder poets,—in a paragraph of to-day's newspaper. She was usually spoken of as being remarkably clever, but with the addition that her sister Celia had more common-sense. Nevertheless, Celia wore scarcely more trimmings; and it was only to close observers that her dress differed from her sister's, and had a shade of coquetry in its arrangements; for Miss Brooke's plain dressing was due to mixed conditions, in most of which her sister shared. The pride of being ladies had something to do with it: the Brooke connections, though not exactly aristocratic, were unquestionably "good:" if you inquired backward for a generation or two, you would not find any yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers—anything lower than an admiral or a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor discernible as a Puritan gentleman who served under Cromwell, but afterwards conformed, and managed to come out of all political troubles as the proprietor of a respectable family estate. Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster's daughter. Then there was well-bred economy, which in those days made show in dress the first item to be deducted from, when any margin was required for expenses more distinctive of rank. Such reasons would have been enough to account for plain dress, quite apart from religious feeling; but in Miss Brooke's case, religion alone would have determined it; and Celia mildly acquiesced in all her sister's sentiments, only infusing them with that common-sense which is able to accept momentous doctrines without any eccentric agitation. Dorothea knew many passages of Pascal's Pensees and of Jeremy Taylor by heart; and to her the destinies of mankind, seen by the light of Christianity, made the solicitudes of feminine fashion appear an occupation for Bedlam. She could not reconcile the anxieties of a spiritual life involving eternal consequences, with a keen interest in gimp and artificial protrusions of drapery. Her mind was theoretic, and yearned by its nature after some lofty conception of the world which might frankly include the parish of Tipton and her own rule of conduct there; she was enamoured of intensity and greatness, and rash in embracing whatever seemed to her to have those aspects; likely to seek martyrdom, to make retractations, and then to incur martyrdom after all in a quarter where she had not sought it. Certainly such elements in the character of a marriageable girl tended to interfere with her lot, and hinder it from being decided according to custom, by good looks, vanity, and merely canine affection. With all this, she, the elder of the sisters, was not yet twenty, and they had both been educated, since they were about twelve years old and had lost their parents, on plans at once narrow and promiscuous, first in an English family and afterwards in a Swiss family at Lausanne, their bachelor uncle and guardian trying in this way to remedy the disadvantages of their orphaned condition.
Middlemarch
by George Eliot

Middlemarch is my latest Classics Club spin book and, as the length of the opening paragraph suggests, quite an undertaking. My paperback edition weighs in at 800 pages, but I've decided to be kind to my eyes and read it on the kindle instead. I'm almost certain no one would decide to read this book based on the opening paragraph alone. To me, the decision to read Middlemarch  seems more like an investment or long-term commitment. If the first couple of chapters are any indication, it will be time well spent.

What do you think of the opening? Have you read Middlemarch? Do you want to?


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

41 comments:

  1. While indeed long, I enjoyed the opening paragraph. However, I don't think I would take on this book at this time. I hope you enjoy it.

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    1. Pat - I've only read a couple of chapters, but am enjoying it so far.

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  2. I read it a long time ago. I quite liked it too...


    Here is my intro post

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  3. I've always wanted to read this classic. I even have a copy on my Nook. Guess the best way to describe it is, it's on my book bucket list.

    My WoW: http://www.bookclublibrarian.com/2014/02/first-chapter-first-paragraph-51.html

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    1. Catherine - I've been meaning to read this for ages and it's finally time to get started...

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  4. I would have to be in the mood to take this on....although I've often paused when noticing it on a blog or even on Amazon. Thanks for sharing. Here's MY TUESDAY POST

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - I think I'm going to need an 'easier' book to read along with MIddlemarch... especially in the evenings. I'm sometimes too tired to think this hard ;)

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  5. Love, love, love Middlemarch. Fantastic novel. One I will definitely re-read.

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    1. Amy - I'm delighted with the first few chapters... think this will be fun!

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  6. You brave woman! I hope you will enjoy this one. It's not a classic I've been inclined to read, but maybe someday.

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  7. That's a long opening. One diay, I will revisit this book!
    Harvee
    Book Dilettante

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    1. Harvee - It'd definitely not a concise opening, lol.

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  8. I've started this book many times, but have not finished it yet!

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    1. Nise' - I started this several years ago and discovered my bookmark at page 490! Had to start over because it's been too long...

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  9. An all time favourite of mine, hope your bookclub enjoy this.

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    1. LindyLou Mac - I'm so glad to know it's one of your favorites!

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  10. Haha- I totally agree with your comment that no one would read this based on the first paragraph alone! Seems like quite an undertaking! I do commend you for giving it a try though!

    Here's Mine: http://www.sarahsbookshelves.com/fiction/first-chapter-first-paragraph-tuesday-intros-dark-road-mercy-wiley-cash/

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    1. Sarah - Hope I can make it all the way to the end this time ;)

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  11. I'm glad to see a classic… haven't read it yet but I kept thinking I should read more classics. Glad you are making a go at it.

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    1. Peggy - I love classics, but this one has intimidated me more than most. We'll see...

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    1. Kelley - This is my second attempt. Hoping for better luck this time!

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  13. Good for you. I hope you enjoy it. I think this is probably a good, slow, summer book for me. Here's Mine

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    1. Paulita - Winter is usually my time for long classics... hoping for the best with Middlemarch!

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  14. Much as I love Middlemarch, that opening is rather daunting isn't it. I think it sets the stage very well though, and provides key insights into Dorothea and Celia.

    Enjoy :)

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    1. JaneGS - I rolled my eyes after reading that paragraph, but reread it almost immediately and was quite impressed. Eliot offers a lot of insight into her characters and now I can't wait to learn even more about them.

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  15. I LOVE the intro and actually never read this classic. Time to consider changing that:) enjoy

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    1. Diane - Winter always seems like the perfect time to read classics... and the way this winter is going, I still have plenty of time!

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  16. I liked that beginning paragraph even though it is long. It seemed a little gossipy in a way that seems appropriate for that time period. I sure hope you enjoy all the time you are going to spend with this book.

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    1. Margot - So do I... this is going to take a while!

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  17. 'Middlemarch' is one of those classics I have been meaning to read, but have never found the right time to read it. This opening is rather long, but I would still give it a go. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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    1. Spangle - I'm making progress... very slowly.

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  18. I read this a couple years ago and just loved Dorothea. I hope you enjoy the rest of it!

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    1. Melissa - I'm already enjoying Dorothea!

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  19. This has never actually been on my to-read list. It's just never caught my attention I guess.

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    1. Carol - I added Middlemarch to my list about 10 years ago. Hope I get through it this time.

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  20. Wow, that is some opening. A little too drawn out maybe. Lol. I think you're right in it being an investment but one you'll likely be glad of in the end. I do think I'd have to go the audio route though to get through it.

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    1. Darlene - I've got the audio ready to go, but so far I'm still just reading.... not making much progress because I'm still at the 15% mark ;-)

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