Mengenal “Living Books”, Cerita Rekaan yang Bukan Sembarang Fiksi

Terima kasih banyak buat sahabatku, Rizki Mahardiani, yang memberiku ide untuk menulis tentang ini

Masih terbayang secara ‘sadis’ pengadilan sosial untuk tuan Bulstrode saat novel Middlemarch menuju akhir setelah perjalanan membaca yang sangat panjang. Dalam forum tersebut, tuan Bulstrode diadili oleh tetangga dan kawan-kawannya usai mereka tahu Raffles, seorang dari masa lalu Bulstrode yang tahu benar cara licik bankir tersebut hingga bisa kaya raya seperti sekarang, meninggal dunia.

Singkat kata, publik menghakimi tuan Bulstrode lah yang membunuh Raffles agar ia tutup mulut padahal tidak sama sekali meski tuan Bulstrode sudah kadung jengkel diperas oleh Rafles jelang kematiannya. Tetap saja tuan Bulstrode tak bisa menghindar dari forum tersebut bahwa memang ia menempuh cara kelam agar bisa makmur. Publik pun menilai uang amalnya ke kaum papa hanyalah semacam “penebus dosa” atas perbuatan jahatnya selama ini. Yang paling menyebalkan tentu saja nasib Dr. Tertius Lydgate, dokter muda penuh bakat yang “kecipratan” reputasi buruk tuan Bulstrode. Publik ikut-ikutan menilai sang dokter mencicipi uang haram tuan Bulstrode hingga akhirnya memaksa Dr. Tertius benar-benar angkat kaki dari tempat itu.

Itu adalah sepenggal adegan dalam salah satu novel yang aku sayangi. Meski bukan buku paling aku favoritkan, Middlemarch merupakan novel kehidupan atau living book yang sangat aku rekomendasikan bagi siapa pun untuk dibaca. Bisa dibilang ini novel kehidupan yang paling kaya, komplet dan mewakilkan kondisi banyak orang di suatu tempat, tak terkecuali di Indonesia. Kesemuanya bisa tercermin secara gamblang berkat kemampuan menulis George Eliot yang sungguh bagus.

Middlemarch merupakan contoh novel kehidupan yang mengandung pesan penting nan berat tetapi membungkusnya dengan fiksi yang menarik. Imajinasi yang detil tentang orang, tempat hingga kejadian membuat pembaca awalnya abai dengan ide yang Eliot ingin sampaikan.

Setelah sanggup menawan hati pembaca dengan cerita yang menarik, barulah mereka akan mulai menggenggam apa maksud kisah ini. Bukan hanya itu, mereka akan akan mulai merefleksikan karakter yang ada di dalamnya dengan diri mereka sendiri atau orang di sekitar mereka, hingga situasi sosial saat ini.

Jika kau adalah putri baik hati, perempuan lembut tetapi kuat, karakter Dorothea Brooke bakal memukaumu. Jika kamu adalah tipikal orang yang sangat idealis, Dr. Tertius akan banyak mewakilkan pandangan hidupmu. Atau jika kamu cowok yang satir dan mempunyai jiwa seni tinggi meski hidupmu pas-pasan, tengoklah Will Ladislaw.

Novel kehidupan mempunyai tipikal fiksi yang dari permukaan dan pada awalnya terbaca ringan, menyenangkan tetapi lama kelamaan begitu pembaca mulai membenamkan hati pada cerita atau karakternya, mulailah novel jenis ini menunjukkan taringnya yang sesungguhnya: kedalaman isu yang ingin disampaikan oleh sang penulis.

Novel macam ini mengajak pembaca belajar, mulai dari berimajinasi, mencerna maksud  penulis lalu memikirkan nasib karakter hingga kemudian mengambil banyak pelajaran dari situ. Hal-hal berat ini bagaimana pun menjadi menarik untuk diselami sebab kita sudah kadung suka dengan cerita, tokoh atau gaya kepenulisannya.

Novel semacam ini banyak ditulis oleh abad ke-17,18 dan 19. Salah satu contoh novel kehidupan lainnya yang saya sukai adalah cerita-ceritanya Thomas Hardy. Sebenarnya mayoritas bukunya muram dan sedih hanya saja saya suka membacanya sebab karakter dia begitu humanis selain banyak mengangkat jati diri perempuan pada masanya. Katakanlah, Micheal Henchard dalam The Mayor of Casterbridge, yang hingga kini masih menjadi tokoh fiksi favorit saya sebab kompleksitas hidupnya sebagai anak manusia, dari orang yang nggak benar hingga menjadi walikota. Tokoh yang semrawut tetapi pelan sanggup menarik simpati saya sebagai manusia pada umumnya yang tak pernah bisa luput dari yang namanya dosa dan kesalahan.

Ada banyak pelajaran yang bisa dipetik dari seorang keras kepala tetapi sangat sabar seperti Jane Eyre. Bagi banyak orang mungkin dia perempuan yang sok kuat tetapi buat saya sendiri karakter dia yang sungguh idealis membuat saya kagum. Saya masih ingat adegan dimana dia harus memakan bubur sisa orang untuk bertahan hidup setelah dia gagal menjual sapu tangannya agar bisa makan. Buat saya novel Jane Eyre memberikan pelajaran sabar yang teramat sangat manis dan indah pada akhirnya, yang sekali lagi, disajikan dalam fiksi luar biasa buatan Charlotte Bronte.

Buku kehidupan memang pada dasarnya hanya berupa cerita rekayasa, nama dan tempat banyak yang tidak ada. Tetapi sukar untuk tidak mengakui membaca buku berkelas seperti ini tidak memberikan kesan selain ceritanya yang bagus atau tokohnya yang menarik. Buku semacam ini selalu bisa meninggalkan bekas berharga bagi saya sebagai manusia zaman modern. Meski beberapa nilainya terdengar klise, seperti belajar sabar, setia, percaya pada orang lain, novel kehidupan seperti yang saya sebut di atas somehow membuat saya untuk mengunjungi nilai-nilai penting dalam hidup tersebut. Baru saya sadar dari novel semacam ini saya sebenarnya banyak belajar tentang nilai penting dalam hidup dengan cara yang sangat menyenangkan.

 

Advertisements

Fly me to the UK for a literary adventure I’ve always dreamt of

Quoting famous speech from Martin Luther King Jr, ‘I Have a Dream’, well, I have a dream, too, which is to launch what I call as a literary adventure to say hello, take inspiration for writing then say thank you for these literary genius whose works not only entertain my soul but their imaginations and voices have helped me finding my own place in this hectic cum wonderful modern life.
Thomas Hardy
I have been longing for paying a visit to the places that play significant roles in the works of Thomas Hardy, one of my most-beloved authors. If you have bumped to this messy blog then you realize how much I admire his works as his name becomes the most-tagged word in this place, hehe..
If you ask me why do I love Hardy so much, one of my answers is because he knows how to appreciate nature then put them into beautiful words. Reading his novels soothe my heart because his words are indeed pieces of arts, beautifully-crafted.
I would really love to go to the house he was born in a house in Stinsford, a village and civil parish in southwest Dorset, one mile east of Dorchester. Stinsford is the original ‘Mellstock’ in his ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ and ‘Jude the Obscure’. I haven’t read ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ but I have enjoyed ‘Jude’.
The first site I wish I can visit is Hardy’s cottage as you can see from the below picture. This is where the poet was born in 1840 then writing ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ in 1872 and ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ in 1874. I can fancy how peaceful it was when he was working by looking at the cottage and its surroundings. No wonder he was able to produce very fascinating words as its neighborhood was providing him a lot of inspirations to write. Hardy was staying in the cottage until he was 34 years old.

Hardy's_cottage,_Higher_Bockhampton_-_geograph.org.uk_-_480484

He once moved to London but never felt at home in the big city. As such, he built a house namely Max Gate, which is just a few miles from the cottage where he was living before. He and his first and second wife inhabited the house, which I think is quite large and exquisite, from 1885 until his death in 1928. This is the house where he was creating his best fictions; ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’, ‘Jude the Obscure’ and ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ as well as most of his poems. While general fans mostly applaud ‘Tess’, ‘Far’ or ‘Jude’, my most favorite fiction is yes, ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’. I really really admire the book. Anyway, this is Max Gate.

640px-Max_Gate

George Eliot
Mary Anne Evans or mostly popular as George Eliot (12 November 1819 to 22 December 1880) is my second most-adored Victorian novelist. Until now, I don’t know how Eliot produces such an extensive, rich in terms of issues, imaginations and characterizations as in Middlemarch. By the way, my personal favorite is ‘The Mill on the Floss’ as it becomes my first ‘real’ experience reading her works. I read ‘Silas Marner’ back when I was a university student but I don’t consider it as a ‘concrete’ experience because the book that I was savoring was its simplified version. I don’t want to read the unabridged version of ‘Silas Marner’ though because the story is really sad.
So this is Arbury Hall estate. In its South Farm, the very smart baby girl namely Mary Anne Evans was born in 12 November 1819. The estate was belonging to the Newdigate family where which her father was working as a land manager there.

Arbury_Hall_Morris_edited.jpg

In early 1820, the author family moved to Griff House where Mary Anne was living for 20 years. After that, she was travelling and moving to some places. Here is the Griff House:

images (2)

Elizabeth Gaskell
For any Victorian enthusiasts, you should try Gaskell’s books, which move very soft and smooth. ‘Mary Barton’ is my favorite book from her. No wonder she is able to produce elegantly-made words. Gaskell is described as a lady-like person, tidy, well-mannered one. Oh, I can totally associate with her writings, in terms of word choice and placement, characters (esp in ‘Wives and Daughters’) and issue selections. If I have a chance, it will be delightful to stop by in this house, where the author and her family were living for some years. Let me put the address here: 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester. Oh I love the building. What a lovely sight!images (3).jpeg

The Bronte sisters
Of course, the Bronte Parsonage Museum must be in the list! This is the house where the Bronte family was staying which is in Haworth, West Yorkshire. Looking at the building, I think the family is quite wealthy. My favorite Bronte is Anne because her traits much like mine, hehe. Who is your beloved Bronte, my friend?

300px-Bronte_Parsonage_Museum.JPG
Charles Dickens
So far, I have read ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’. I honestly say I’m not really into his works which is a matter of writing style reason. But if I were in UK, this Charles Dickens museum as you can see below is a temptation I can’t resist, hehe.. The address is on 48 Doughty street, Holborn, London. It became the home for the author from 25 March 1837 until December 1839. Though it was relatively short, the house saw him producing best fictions, ‘The Pickwick Paper’ in 1836, ‘Oliver Twist’ in 1838, ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ between 1838 and 1839 and Barnaby Rudge in 1840 and 1841. How prolific Dickens was!

images (4)

Jane Austen
And here is the queen of all romantic women out there, I included, is the one and only Jane Austen. The picture shows Jane Austen house museum in the village of Chawton, near Alton in Hampshire. She and her family were occupying the house for the last eight years of her life. It is assumed she was revising the drafts of ‘Sense and Sensibility’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ here. Austen also wrote ‘Mansfield Park’, ‘Emma’ (I love Emma!) and ‘Persuasion’ here.
Jane_Austen_(House_in_Chawton)_2
Wilkie Collins
And the last author who recently spurs my adrenaline is Wilkie Collins. He is chubby anyway by looking at his picture. Collins and his wife, Caroline Graves, were occupying Harley Street 12, Marylebone, in the central of London, from 1860 to 1864. I’m not really sure whether he owned the entire building or just rented some rooms of it. Collins is said to have written most parts of one of his best mysterious novels, ‘The Woman in White’, here. I currently look for reading the title after I am so immersed with ‘The Moonstone’. images (5)
So, those are a number of sites that completely attract my desires to go there. I think my bucket-list is already full even before I have enough money to make it, hehe.. Well, never mind. Hopefully the bucket will be filled. Till then, let’s dream again!
Thank you very much for Wikipedia, Wikimedia and Wilkie-Collins.info for providing all the lovely shots.

Basic guidance before reading the works of these literary giants (1)

When it comes to wanting reading books by Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens, surely we must bear in our minds that their works are so lengthy. About 300 pages, depending on the book edition that we have in our hands, are relatively short. Well, yeah. So, first and foremost, we must be very patient, especially those who are first-timers in enjoying their works.
Once we can slowly bury ourselves in the stories, I expect all of you can deeply delve into great literary adventures through their created characters in particular. For each and every author that I mention has the sort of memorable figures that are immersed in readers’ minds.
So here are my thoughts about each of them. I attempt to compose this post according to my experiences reading some of their works. This post may not be fair because of the different number of books that I read from each of the writers but I do hope my share is still worth reading.
Thomas Hardy
You will be wholly entertained by the way he appreciates beauty in daily life. Not only you will absorbed by his way of describing scenery, landscape, but also by his skill of crafting characters.
Hardy’s characters are very strong. His works are associated by characters you won’t forget not only because of their traits but also because of their fates. For instance, Bathseba Everdene who best portrays an independent woman whom, despite her wealthy and high social status, can still be willing to submit herself as a devoted wife.
Or who doesn’t remember Tess Durbeyfield, one of the most beloved literary heroines of all time? Reading her tale makes me learning the beauty of patience, endurance and faith. Her scenes when she walks very long, this happens a few times in the book, still stick in my mind. For me, they depict her struggles in life, the thing we can always look at it as a good example.
All in all, Hardy has special attention to woman issues, their positions in the society, their impacts to the lives of the men they love and their overall personal characteristics we can learn so much.
And by the way, if you dislike stories that end in gloomy, dark and bleak endings then I don’t think his works suit you best. Some of his stories are very depressing, but most of his end in, I call them as ‘realistic way of life that makes you viewing the plots as what human beings normally face in their life stories’.
George Eliot
Mary Ann Evans or popularly known as George Eliot will wow you with her complicated, brilliant way of putting her ideas into a book that hardly bores you. In her ‘Middlemarch’ you will be bedazzled with how she puts and weaves that many characters in the book so as they can relate to one another in such smooth ways.
Eliot’s works touch various subjects. While Hardy puts more focus on women, society and universal moral values, Eliot addresses issues, too, about corrupted religion, sibling relationship, family ties and even politic.
Her writing is very exquisite and deep. Unlike Hardy who prefers ending the fate of the characters in ‘realistic’ ways, Eliot still believes in happy ending, that those do good things completely deserve of enjoying joyful lives.
Jane Austen
Reading Jane Austen’s books is refreshing, silly yet are full of self-mockery. You will laugh at the characters’ behaviors in the novels but at the same time you will like look at yourself at the mirror.
Austen’s works are identified with match-making, dances and parties. You will seem associate them with trivial issues but actually those are the keys of her best works. Because from that social occasions, one can learn into another’s traits, overhears rumors and such. I call Austen’s works are amazing because she takes small things through which she actually voices her criticisms about people at the time the novels are produced.

Three universal values that make ‘Middlemarch’ enduring work

I am so glad that I don’t throw ‘Middlemarch’ away during eight years I immerse myself in other titles. I suddenly want to read the masterpiece after I stumble upon an article about minimalism. The article cites the book so I take it again after two failed attempts and I enjoy reading it very much.
It takes almost two months to complete reading it. The period which I think is kind of short given the almost 700 pages it runs. Throughout the reading process, as I write in previous posts, I can’t help being bedazzled by George Eliot’s story technique, her brilliant ways of giving a life to each of its character, describing the places and emotions, and finally guiding readers to gain so many lessons for the sake of their own interests. The book is full of many life lessons. What makes it sticks into the hearts of so many people is that it doesn’t preach, it doesn’t instruct to do or don’t do specific things.
In fact, Eliot portrays memorable characters that you may find yourself part of their overall traits. If you are a social person, you can be like Dorothea or Caleb Garth. If you find yourself love learning you can look at Edward Casaubon. If you are very easy going person, then may be Will Ladislaw suits you best.
Each and every character in the book carries problems. Eliot mentions their ways of handling the problems according to their given traits and perspectives in such beautiful ways. Hence, readers can embrace many knowledge and even put their feet in the characters’ shoes. With the strong characters in the book herewith I share with you my friends, three values about life that make the book remains so profound. And for me, I can learn a lot and apply them in my personal life:
1. You don’t have to save the world to consider yourself a worthy human being.
It’s completely fine if you have certain mission in your life, be it being a humanitarian worker, beneficial technology inventor, international public speaker/motivator etc. Modern world seems require us to attain specific things or goals in life then show them to the world. For instance, certificates to prove something or meeting important people in your chosen fields. Then you will expect ‘likes’, ‘loves’ and bunch of comments to affirm that you are a ‘successful’ human being. It’s good if you can be one of the people but what if you aren’t?
If you find yourself questioning this sort of thing then Dorothea and Tertius are very good examples you can look at. Both are very kind, idealistic people, who want to contribute a lot of things to the society. Dorothea’s preliminary goal is providing homes for poor people at cheap cost while Tertius’s wish is taking care sick people while enhancing his medical skills in a hospital. As such, he works with Mr. Bulstrode whom he actually dislikes.
But life doesn’t go according to their plans. Their responses are what make the two living happy or unhappy one.
2. It takes years to build a good reputation and only seconds to destroy it

The case of Mr. Buldstrode serves special thing to review. Though he is considered by some, including by his relative, as a cold, wicked person, I am still surprised learning about his past via Raffles. That is why public scorns at him when they know when he gets his wealth and what he does with Raffles in his last days even though he doesn’t kill him.

But rumors and gossips are very deadly. They don’t care anymore about the money the banker puts for the public cause because they immediately consider his deed serves like ‘a money laundry’ for the bad things he does in the past.

What makes me hating the public is their perception about Tertius. They believe the money he gets from Mr. Buldstrode acts as a kind of compensation for helping him killing Raffles without actually having convincing evidence.

At this point, Tertius’s reputation is at stake. Will his care for the unfortunate sick people be helping him out of the mess? Who will actually believe he is innocent?

3. Love can be redefined

The love life of Dorothea is interesting to be talked about. It isn’t about her marrying twice but it’s how she acknowledges her feeling for each of the man whom she marries with.

When Dorothea falls in love with Edward, she is a highly idealistic woman. As much as she admires Edward, a smart, sharp man with good reputation, I think her decision to be united with Edward in a matrimony is partly to her dream of making herself useful.

At this point, she wants to be a useful wife. Their marriage is often marked with reading together, working at the library, trying to submit herself to the study of her husband.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Because I think marriage aims at making each couple becoming more excellent in their respective fields. But the problem is Dorothea and Edward’s good intention is not enough to save their marriage. Or to be precise, their motive to be as one isn’t that strong. Marrying each other for the sake of helping one another isn’t adequate.

As such, Dorothea says she doesn’t fully submit herself to Edward because her definition of love hasn’t been solid. Sometimes it doesn’t any explanations why you love someone, you just feel it, you just know something unexplainable is brewing inside your heart. It’s you yourself who can feel it.

Such is the feeling Dorothea has with Will, and the former feels the same way, too. She can now whole-heartedly love Will and the other way around. Through pain and death she previously suffers, Dorothea can renew her definition of love, which is indescribable after all.

 

When we can never get it enough: a study case of Dr. Tertius Lydgate

Dr.  Tertius Lydgate is a tragic hero I wish every one of us can learn so much from. Among all characters in ‘Middlemarch’ this is the one I am very interested to talk about though my personal resemblance is with Edward Casaubon and I highly put Dorothea Ladislaw as a strong model for women.
I share a few things in common with Dr. Tertius Lydgate. Thank God, I am not like him anymore. I used to have the similar mindset as he does but thankfully I become much more relaxed as life experiences force me to.
For those who haven’t read the novel I am sorry that I am going to drop a lot of spoilers here as I don’t know yet how to create good posts without touching some parts of the book.
On top of the doctor’s mind is a mission not only to become an exceptional one but also be beneficial for those around him. As such, he sets on a journey to Middlemarch then supports Mr. Bulstrode in exchange of a new hospital in the place. There is nothing wrong with the doctor. He is a very kind person though some people, including his own wife, Rosamund, kind of hates him because Tertius is someone who doesn’t like asking for helps even when things get tough. He holds his pride so high that asking for money when he is deep in debt taints his honor. He eventually asks for money from Mr. Bulstrode after his wife can’t resist anymore with the tension and he doesn’t want to make her much more miserable than she already is.
The thing is Tertius is the type of person who doesn’t like putting any masks in his face, the same that he applies in regard to others. If he doesn’t like someone then he says or at least he takes a distance away from him or her. This honesty, according to his wife, is one factor that troubles him when he is actually in a dire need.
In my opinion, Tertius is much an idealist than Edward Casaubon. While Edward’s perfectionism is mixed up with his jealousy to Will Ladislaw and stubbornness to admit his real feeling, Tertius has no problems about that.
Yet Tertius’ perfectionism puts him in a very constant point where he barely sees other things that actually see him excel. His idealism of wanting making himself as a touch bearer in Middlemarch through the hospital he oversees becomes like a way of life that he doesn’t see any other means by which he will call himself “a successful person”.
When Rosy complains that Tertius should be paid for what he does in setting up the hospital, the learned man should have considered her opinion. But his idealism already places him in unbalanced position where his idealism is above realism or what reality throws at him, which is the amount of debt he has to pay.
He should not put a blind eye to the fact that he can’t always spend his life prioritizing helping sick people who can’t pay him. He shouldn’t forget that he needs money to make ends meet.
Tertius eventually realizes this and follows his wife’s advice. They depart for London after the debt is fully paid with the help of Dorothea. He finally puts the happiness of Rosy on top of all then works for money. In the new city, Tertius is a commercially successful doctor. His practice is excellent.
But at the end of his life, Tertius still regards him as a failure because he doesn’t fulfill what he is meant to do which is curing poor people in the Middlemarch’s hospital. Isn’t his life a very tragic one? Despite his good deeds to others, his ability to make his family happy, Tertius dies unsatisfied.

This is the deep hole George Eliot leaves my heart with. And I wish my friends and a lot of people will read then know this character because his life relates much to what we, as modern people face, some will realize, but some will not.
Thankfully, again and again, I know what goes wrong in his life and I believe many of us are familiar with the story.
It is ingratitude.
Tertius is ungrateful that he helps so many people in Middlemarch, particularly the ones who are unable to pay him. Tertius is unthankful that Rosy is finally happy they can live a good, financially-sufficient life in London.
Tertius’s mind gets so absorbed in his own thought that he only has one sort of success that is embedded in his mind even before he marries Rosy. But life changes. Problems occur which may change people’ life purposes. Tertius can deal with his marital problems but unfortunately he can’t do so with his self-aim. The ways he handles his matters go in line with his circumstances but his idealism isn’t. He slowly changes his behavior and this helps him so much going out of the problems but his dream is not. What he fails to realize is that the only constant thing in life is change, including changes in one’s life goals. If he could accept the fact that he is still unable to fulfill his mission no matter how hard he tries then his life will be joyful.
What makes his fate so miserable is that Tertius is unthankful for himself.
And I think that is the worst kind of unfavorable behavior to oneself.

This mind wrestling after bidding farewell to ”Middlemarch”

I complete reading “Middlemarch” a few days ago, much faster than my expectation. Overall I take about two months reading the masterpiece’s 688 pages. It isn’t the thickest novel I have read so far. ‘’Wives and Daughters” runs more than 800 pages. But ‘’Middlemarch” is way more difficult to read. It takes a lot of efforts than the other title which is written by Elizabeth Gaskell. A lot more characters, more serious issues, much more detailed descriptions about the people and the places in ‘’Middlemarch” are some of the things that make Eliot’s way above ‘Wives and Daughter’. Anyway, I am not going to compare the books in the post, well ever, because each of them gives different nourishment to me, or readers in general.

It has been two days since I close the last page of “Middlemarch”. Call me sentimental but I feel like I have lost my best friend in the past two months, especially when I commute. The fact is I read almost all of its content in a train and public transport vehicle. I carry it when I go to the office. I intentionally use it to shield me away from my smartphone. The book is so thick that I find it hard to put it into my brown bag. So I bring it on hand.

Something breaks my heart when the book is coming to an end. A small crack that still lasts until now. The novel leaves mixed feelings. I am contented that Eliot provides clear and fair fate to each of the book’s major and semi major characters, particularly about Dorothea and Will Ladislaw. I feel so, so sorry with the life of Dr. Tertius Lydgate (will talk about this topic later on in a separate post). Even when I write this I don’t know exactly how to properly express my feeling about the book.

The novel is so remarkable, a wholeness that gets me thinking “how she does this?”

I can’t imagine her writing process hence she can put her imagination into this sort of complete tale. She creates vivid places as the settings of the book. Each and every character is described in detailed ways that they look as if they were real. Eliot also mentions political and social backgrounds that happen in larger scale, not only in Middlemarch. Small gossips, scenes in gambling house are alive, too. Eliot pays a lot of attention to even what look like trivial things.

Every time I get bored when it comes to minor figures which I am hardly able to memorize, the plot quickly shifts to major people whom I follow closely. So the boredom immediately goes away.

Eliot puts quite a lot of wise sentences, which miraculously don’t bother me, as a reader who doesn’t like books that sound preachy. And the most praised aspect of the book is character development. Eliot invites readers to get knowing very humane characters that for myself, will stick at my heart for very long time.

Whenever I look for a female character who is generous, overwhelmed with her wealth, I quickly come to the name of Dorothea. Her interest of helping others is so great that she makes it as one of the factors that makes her accepting the marriage proposal from Edward Ladislaw. She wants to make her life useful to her husband. The reason that later on proves inadequate to make her marriage life a happy one.

When I think about a figure who is too social that he becomes poor, I put Caleb Garth as the perfect example.

Rosamund Vincy, later Rosamund Lydgate, is the typical model for a beautiful woman who cares much about image, social pride, levelling.. as in ‘he is on par with my level’ sort of thing.

I can’t believe there is a man namely Fred Vincy who, despite his gorgeous looking that becomes his mother’s pride, is such a useless man. The kind of person who doesn’t know what to do in life.  An undecisive person, a dumb one. It is so sweet that he has Mary Garth by his side. She is not pretty but her intelligence and vision of life rescues him. Fred and Mary are such a perfect blend where Fred’s physical beauty meets with Mary’s intelligence and cleverness. Thank God, their strong love unites the two. Thank God.

And personally, the character that suits me most is Edward Casaubon. I write about much about him in previous two posts, much earlier than Dorothea and Tertius. I haven’t written about the two leading characters in details (will later work on them).

I can’t think how Eliot makes this book, her creative process. How many books she read so that she can come up with fragments from a lot of poems, proses not only in English Language but also in French Language. How many hours per day she dedicates her time making this story. Does each and every character that she puts into the book goes through thorough research?

Those are some questions that emerge when I read the book then after I conclude it. Too many questions, curiosities that I wish I could get her answers as the book is done reading. The last one is I would like to know how she can make this balanced overall story that makes it so round that finishing reading the novel leaves me a void I don’t know how to fill it up. The book is so exceptional that I find it hard to part with no matter how relieved I am that it ends fairly.

 

Farewell, Edward Casaubon. Never think you will end that much miserable

I wish Edward Casaubon can make it longer than he is in Middlemarch. There is a kind of disappointment that he passes away much sooner than I expect. If you have read my previous post you know why I hope the clergyman lives longer in the masterpiece. Yes, he reflects so much about my personality. It is not because that he says so much about my trait that I wish him surviving through his deadly illness. But it is more because I look forward how he deals with his pride, jealousy, and seriousness in his marriage with Dorothea, his wife.

Yet, George Eliot ends this character too soon, at least according to my opinion. He dies in the morning while sitting in a bench under a tree. Peacefully on the surface but full of turmoil on the inside. The night before his passing, Dorothea can’t decide whether or not she is going to keep her words of obeying her husband’s will. She is confused thus delays telling her decision to her husband. Before she says her words, Edward passes away.

From Dorothea’s point of view, she must be glad that she doesn’t say anything about it. Had she known the will, she would regret it so much because the will declares she would not inherit all the properties left by her husband if she marries Will Ladislaw.

Eliot ends the fate of Edward in such depressing, wicked way. His envy and hatred to Will Ladislaw swallows him so much that he doesn’t want to see his wife happy. Eliot brings such unthinkable finale to the character, much worse than my expectation. He dies while holding a deep grudge. An inexplicable one. I think that is the worst ever fate an individual can withhold.

Picture source