“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly
“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
― George Eliot,
In Middlemarch, Eliot probes the complexity of human nature and studies the idea of vocation: the call to find meaning through work in a provincial world.
I love the dilemma–how is an intelligent woman going to be intellectually stimulated in a time when there are so few options for women? This reflects Eliot’s own story: why does she write under a male pseudonym? Dorothea settles on marriage to an older man, a scholar and (she hopes) a mentor–ironically making an intellectual choice about the desire of the heart. What ensues is her struggle to be the person she aspires to being a world which values none of the ideals that interest her.
I love how psychological Eliot is, how interested she is in the inner workings of people’s minds. Why do Dorothea and Lydgate make the choices they do? Why do they choose people so unsuited to them? As in Daniel Deronda, Eliot is very interested in intellectual/spiritual passion–how religious scholarship can inform or transform a life–but while she is attracted to the dispassionate discipline of religious wisdom, she also knows that earthly love is what sustains us. This tension, between moral ideal and human behaviour, is the drive of the novel and probably makes the most sense in its historical context: a time of great intellectual inquiry, the Victorian obsession with self-improvement. Yet it isn’t that different from the self-improvement obsessions of our own time…
This study was added in response to the interest in the previous study of Middlemarch – as well as the requests for something to focus the mind during lockdown and its aftermath.
- Facilitated by Sarah Snoxall
- Tuesday early evening 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
- Seven-meeting study, 20 April 2021 through 7 May 2021
- Online discussions using Zoom meeting interface. Zoom is free for participants, instructions will be sent upon registration.
- Recommended edition: Middlemarch by George Eliot (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – 26 Jan. 2000 ISBN-10 : 9780393974522
- £170 for seven-week study, includes notes and questions for preparation.
TO REGISTER for the study, please use the secure Paypal payment button below to pay £170 (Please contact us if you prefer to pay by direct bank transfer).