WHAT IS CLASSIC REMARKS?
Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.
HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE?
Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!
(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)
THIS WEEK’S PROMPT:
What classic do you read—and love—because it was recommended to you?
I first read George Eliot’s Middlemarch on the recommendation of a college professor. At the time, I had never read anything written by Eliot and really had no idea who she was–even though I loved reading Victorian novels. She was just one of those names I heard all the time, but never looked into. However, I liked this professor and trusted his recommendations, so I picked up Middlemarch to see what it was all about. I would be blown away by its vision and its power.
Middlemarch is one of those books that deftly ties together the fates of a large handful of individuals, illustrating how the rich and the poor, the old and the young are are all tied together in one rural community. The main characters are arguably Dorothea Brooke–an idealistic young woman who throws herself away in a loveless marriage, believing her husband will give her the power to do good that society denies her as a woman–and Dr. Lydgate, Dorothea’s mirror–an idealistic young doctor who finds his values being eroded away by a small-minded wife and society. However, the scope of the book encompasses a large range of characters, showing how their actions create ripple effects throughout the community. The book becomes an extended commentary on the nature of love, the role of the individual in society and in family life, and the social pressures that shape those individuals.
Middlemarch is a large book, and its size can be intimidating. However, Eliot’s astute sense of character, her ability to balance the stories of a large cast, and her keen social observations all make it worth picking up. She is a master of the Victorian novel–and one not to be overlooked.