Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Marching Through Middlemarch

Since one of my resolutions is to read my own books before buying more, I've been eying my collection and sizing up what to read next. But there's a catch that's keeping me from actually opening up another cover, and it's a big one.

You see, on the heels of finishing Aimee Bender's 'The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake', which was, I have to say, satisfying but mildly disappointing, I was feeling optimistic about my ability to tackle any book, and I was feeling lofty in terms of literature. And so, I picked up.....'Middlemarch'.

Oi vey. Over a thousand pages. I've made it past the first hundred, and I am really enjoying it, truly. But my moments with George Eliot are mere minutes stolen before work, during a break on a particularly long shift, or taken when I can tear myself away from the computer screen and my many freelance obligations. I'm experiencing the courtship between Dorothea and Mr Casaubon almost in real time. Well, that's an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. Were I still in school, this book would probably have taken me two weeks. Two weeks of hard reading with some possible resentment, but still.

Speaking of, I'm going to have another glowing nostalgia moment. Reading this book makes me so appreciate taking 'The 18th-Century British Novel in Context'. Because it gave me, well, context. Eliot makes a lot of references in this thing, and I'm getting quite a few of them without flipping to the back for the footnotes (it's a cheap Bantam edition, so they aren't really worth it anyway). Also, it has resulted in something kind of strange: a favorite chapter. I don't think I've ever had one of those before, but number 15 is the one here. It started with the reference to Fielding and intro-ing the chapter as if it came straight from 'Tom Jones'. But my love was then solidified with the consideration of why we don't think of the romance of finding the career you love with the one you love (i.e. a person). It has the same ebb and flow, and can be just as, if not more, defining to your life and identity. That resonates with me to such an extent, nothing could possibly top chapter 15, I don't care what drama is to come.

And so, I stare at my not-yet-organized bookshelf and look longingly on the books which await me. And it really isn't fair to poor old George. She went to the trouble to write these thousand-plus pages, and by golly, I'm going to enjoy every one of them. If most of them happen to be read in the parking lot when I'm early for work, so be it.

No comments:

Post a Comment