The unexpected thing that surprises yet makes me reading ‘Middlemarch’ faster than before

eliot

Dr. Tertius Lydgate says to Mrs. Dorothea Casaubon that her husband, Mr. Edward Casaubon, is severely ill. The sick man may not live longer if he takes his life too seriously, not wanting to take leisure time. If he continues doing so, the disease will get worse.

Prior to Mr. Casaubon’s almost faint, he finds himself so caught up in jealousy over his own niece, Will Ladislaw, who wishes to come at the couple’s residence in Lowick. The patient’s unwillingness to declare his envy turns him into having an argument with his wife who doesn’t sense any jealousy taking place in the heart of her middle-aged husband.

And so it goes. Self-dissatisfied upon his failed research coupled with unexpressed envy strike his health, or to be precise, makes his body weaker than it already is.

This is the scene where I find myself mostly captivated so far (for I don’t even reach the half of the overall book which takes almost 700 pages by the way). When I have decided reading the novel I think I will find Dorothea as the perfect representation of my character or my view on the purpose of the life, which is makes one’s life useful to others. This is actually one of the reasons why Dorothea marries the clergyman.

But in fact, it is Mr. Casaubon who best describes my personality. When I firstly meet this figure right as the novel begins, I think his traits will be like other scientists’, serious, quiet and smart. As the book progresses, I later discover his dark sides match my own.

When he and his wife are on a honeymoon trip in Rome, I start feeling his negativity matches my own. He finds it so hard to separate his professional life with personal, happy time that he definitely deserves to experience. So instead of having a joy, spending most of the time with his wife, Mr. Casaubon gets busy with his job. Dorothea is desperately feeling lonely.

This is the start of my putting special attention to this character, who is actually not the protagonist. I begin thinking how this man resembles my trait, particularly a few years back then. I am a serious, curious person who has spent years of learning and working so hard for me and for my family. Sometimes when I am on a holiday, I am still attached with jobs or at least I use the spare time for reading something thought-provoking once in a while. I know this is unfair for my brain but I can’t help it. I was born this way, man. All I can do is loosening it bit by bit and now alhamdulillahirobbil’alamiiiin (praise to God Almighty) I start successfully taking time to get relaxed and enjoy life through small things.

That’s the first point.

The second one which slaps me on my face is Mr. Casaubon’s relationship with Will Ladislaw. It’s not about the former’s jealousy over the latter but his inability to take criticisms as something objective. Before Will Ladislaw meets his wife, Mr. Casaubon already hates the painter. The reason is very simple. Will Ladislaw has different opinions with Mr. Casaubon about knowledge. He often criticizes Mr. Casaubon about his failed observations and things related to that.

Mr. Casaubon takes the opinions too far into his heart that he despises him so much that he doesn’t want Will Ladislaw to come into his house. His jealousy makes his stance even stricter.

The fact that Mr. Casaubon can’t stand of criticisms and think that he is the best of all is so me. I am so hard on myself and perfectionist. I think these go hand in hand with perfectionism. These make me stubborn, underestimating others’ opinions. I still feel people’ opinions that go against my views ‘attack’ me.  I get irritated. In the past, this feeling is so strong but now thankfully I learn to accept what people say about me or whatever they wish to say about what I do or what I say. I learn so much not to take things too seriously.

I am curious what happens in the life of Mr. Casaubon then. Can he cope with and control the devilish parts of him? Or will he get carried away with them and let them ruining his marriage life?

Well, those questions are just small pointers that make me wanting reading the masterpiece faster than before apart from bigger aspects that turn this book is so awesome, like the fate of the doctor’s life himself, who is also a perfectionist on his own.

This book is about ambitious people, perfectionists, and idealistic persons. No wonder I love reading it because the book is mostly about me. Thank you so much for writing this, George Eliot!

The picture is taken from here

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The number 1 challenge in ‘Middlemarch’: plentiful characters

Middlemarch ... New edition

Just when I am curious about the life of Dorothea Brooke after she marries with Reverand Edward Casaubon, George Eliot presents me with the new major character, Dr. Tertius Lydgate through events involving Rosamund and Fred Vincy. Eliot suspends the life of Dorothea with the coming of this brilliant doctor in Middlemarch.

While Dorothea’s part runs simple, the doctor’s ways of adjusting himself in the county is broad and complicated. Eliot introduces what motivates Lydgate becoming a doctor, what shapes his medical belief and what kind of mission he carries in the small town.

Plus, Eliot mentions Lydgate’s brief obsession toward a Parisian theater actress who influences his preference about woman. The complicated one is in regard with the mention of several prominent Middlemarch figures, such as Mr. Bulstrode and Mr. Camden Farebrother, Mr. Chichely and the Vincys.

In addition, I get a glimpse on the matters involving Fred who is said to have been in a huge debt. His laziness makes Mary doesn’t count him as a potential husband. There is a tension, too, between Mr. Vincy and Mr. Bulstrode.

While Rosamund and Mary are close friends yet they both have different views. Eliot states early in this novel that Rosamund and Lydgate hit it off the moment they get the first sight of each other at the Mr. Farebrother’s house.

Within the first 135 pages of this very thick book of 668 pages, I already get so many things about the people in Middlemarch. Again, they emerge when the novel is only 135 pages young.

I slowly digest the materials every time they contain a lot of figures like in ‘Middlemarch’. I need better concentration to memorize who are they all as the novel progresses. Sometimes I forget the roles some of them play in the book then I have to recall them back. Or, I just resume the reading process while not really remembering the minor characters knowing what matters most are those concerning Dorothea and Lydgate, Eliot’s grand focus of her masterpiece.

Now I comprehend this book is quite heavy as I need to put steady focus reading it. If not I will get lost in the whole story. The tough thing about reading canon literature such as this one is that the authors bring up a lot of characters whose contributions are necessary to the lives of the major ones.

The interactions of the minor people become the avenues through which the authors inject their overall views about life, love and humanity, as I can get from how Eliot describes the dialogues involving the minor people in the book.

The novel contains stories behind stories. I need to cleave apart layers after layers while the book is very far from closure. Anyway, I enjoy reading it so much. Through conversations between Rosamund and Mary, for instance, Eliot presents me two kinds of women. Rosy is a clever, elegant yet as Mary says, she is blameless, or in my word, a naive one. Mary, on the other hand, appears strong in front of anyone, including feeling no care to Fred, the man she loves, but she is a very sensible person.

‘Middlemarch’ is very entertaining book so far. It is witty, wonderfully-written, deep.  Eliot blends idealism as one of its central themes, with comical languages once in a while. No wonder it is regarded as one of the best novels ever written of all time for I can feel a lot of things within just one package. Thank you, Eliot!

The picture is taken from this 

YES! I completely enjoy reading ‘Middlemarch’ after some failed trials

This is one of the pleasantest posts I have ever shared here. Last night, I was so happy because I retook Middlemarch that has been standing in the bookshelf for as many months I can barely remember. I couldn’t believe myself that I have been immersed in the classic since then. I am so fascinated and grateful for myself because, hell, I bought the book in 2008, been tempted to read it for like, two or three times, but none of which leading me exceeding page 25, LOL!

I have survived until page 30 so far. What makes me joyful is that I have been enjoying reading it until now. This is a miracle! The recipe is forcing myself reading the words although I don’t exactly what all words mean to me (please underrstand that English language is not my mother tongue, hehe).

While the key is also applicable when I read ‘Sense and Sensibility’, how does ‘Middlemarch’ gets more exciting the more I take in words?

In ‘Sense and Sensibility’, I find it a little hard to thoroughly enjoy all of its contents somewhere in the middle of it. The first pages are easy to be understood. As the story progresses, I can’t help feeling a little bit puzzled.

On the contrary, ‘Middlemarch’ is not easy to read from the very first pages although they describe the beauty of Dorothea and Celia and how both siblings differ from each other. But once I pass through them all, everything becomes delicate to taste, hehe.. Can’t hardly wait to read more of it very soon. The novel is more than 600 pages, probably as thick as ‘Wives and Daughters’ whose fonts are much bigger than ‘Middlemarch”’s. It’s going to be a huge work for me given the very thick volume but I am sure I am going to have a very fascinating adventure as long as I enjoy reading it. And so far, it has been hell of a good one.

Very much thanks I would like to say to Joshua Becker, the founder of becomingminimalist.com, who reviews an article by Emily Esfahani Smith about what makes one’s life actually happy and meaningful. Not only her story is  very interesting to read, Emily cites a very fine example to support her view from ‘Middlemarch’.

If I already know what ‘Middlemarch’ is all about then why the hell must I read it again? You may ask me that question.

It’s because I have been long curious what makes the book is very widely-accepted as one of the best novels ever written of all time. Plus, George Eliot writes it. I love her writing style and her ideas though not all of her works end in happy notes. I still remember the joy I have reading ‘The Mill on the Floss’. Although ‘Adam Bede’ a little bit confuses me, I am enchanted by its happy ending. All in all, Eliot’s works never fail satisfying my curiosity. That what makes me idolizing hers.

The picture is taken from this 

 

How Reading Teaches Me A Lot About Self-Commitment

reading

Currently, I am reading ‘Thrawn Janet’, still by Robert Louis Stevenson. It has been taking me a few weeks for reading the short story which is just less than 20 pages. Worse, I don’t even really understand what I am reading about. It’s a triple embarrassment. I have never been this awful.

The hard thing about this short story is that the author, again and again, writes so many dialects in it. It also presents so many writing symbols, such as . Then, it writes the words exactly as they are uttered, like ‘likit’ for ‘like it’. I think they are all about the Scottish language. And you know what? I am so dizzy reading all about that. I really am.

As much as the author wishes to compose the story as original as it is, the method completely drives me insane. But I keep reading it despite the adversity. The experience has been torturing me in the past few weeks but I have kept doing it.

Why?

Because I want to be a damn responsible person. I have to complete what I start, no matter how miserable thing turns out to be. I never expected one of the author’s short stories would be this full of Scottish dialect, how would I know back then?

But deciding purchasing the collected short stories means I have to finish reading all works. I don’t want to put this book into the list of the unfinished novels in my book shelf. There have been some titles and I hope this book won’t be one of them. I am so sick with myself if I don’t keep my promise of reading books that I buy. I can get angry with myself because of that. I can feel so guilty to myself each time I don’t finish reading books.

After years reading books, I have learned how much I can value my self-commitment. In fact, you can measure the level of the self-commitment or train your own commitment through reading books, any kind of reading materials that you purchase then stick at it until the last page.

As a result, I can shamefully tell you that my self-commitment is fluctuating, but mostly I can keep my own words. There are amazing titles that I miss, including Middlemarch by George Eliot, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes and Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Really, I don’t know how I can resume reading the titles. I did try continue reading them but gave it all up, partly because I wasn’t into the writing styles.

If I can give comparison my reading commitment level is 80% to 20%, the lesser percentage is for those partial reading trips. Still pretty good score but I need to work on and reduce the 20% into a lower point.

What about you guys? Do you feel ugly if you don’t finish reading the books you decide buying?

Thank you so much for providing the thumbnail.

Oh the unfinished ‘Middlemarch’!

middlemarch.jpg

thanks so much to the-toast.net for the picture

While ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ are my great losses, ‘Middlemarch’ is definitely the biggest loss of all because it has recently been voted as the best British novel of all time by selected participants all over the world by the BBC Culture. I have still failed to complete reading it after two attempts.

Middlemarch’ and ‘The Mill on the Floss’ are both initiated by my kind of favorite lines; the showing of what the major characters doing. George Eliot brings them up at the very first page of the books by doing small things that perfectly meet my expectations. What makes the two strikingly different is that ‘Middlemarch’ is somehow heavier even through petty things. I can sense something bigger awaits Dorothea Brooke by just reading the first page, whereas ‘The Mill on the Floss’ introduces me on the gloomy future of the major characters as the book enters its one third.

I can’t write much here because I stop reading ‘Middlemarch’ after only completing some dozens of pages, which is very far from the conclusion. I purchase the Wordsworth version of the novel long, long time ago. I have tried to read it twice but give it up too soon. Apart from its heavy language, the presence of several characters within just a few pages discourages me.

And like ‘Wuthering Heights’, I also edit the translated summary version of ‘Middlemarch’ in Wikipedia. Unlike ‘Wuthering Heights’ whose plots is quick and easily understood, ‘Middlemarch’, even after has been summed up, remains complicated.

Probably, I will reconsider giving it a third try after I complete reading ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ by Charles Dickens. The review from Micheal Gorra in the BBC Culture intrigues me to try reading the book. He says that ‘If you really read this novel, you will find out about yourself.’ His statement challenges me for I wonder if I will find myself somewhere in the book should I read the novel.

Getting stuck in reading a book

Buying a book without having enough time to read it is one of the biggest sins. And that’s one of the mistakes I have made in the past few months. Each time I look at “The Return of the Native”, I feel so guilty. It’s not about the price that I pay for the book but more because I completely lose my interest in reading the novel. I try reading “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in a hope that I will be enthusiastic in resuming my reading of “The Return of the Native” but that’s all in vain.

I like the topic in “The Return of the Native”, actually. It’s about real romance and it is written by my most favorite classic writer, Thomas Hardy. At first, I find that the reading process is smooth and I love his story. The language is beautiful as usual. Unfortunately, time limit causes me unable to spend sufficient time to finish reading the book. I have to admit I’m so busy lately. I have bunch of freelance translation jobs and sometimes I have to finish office work during weekends. I abandon the novel for so long that I can no longer really enjoy the story.

Probably, you may ask: how can I read “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” so fast but not for “The Return of the Native”? the answer is: “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is very thin and handy so that I can bring the book anywhere I go. Most of the times, I read the novel in a bus, plane, or during waiting moment. Also, the story is so amazing. So, pardon me Mr. Hardy. For this time being, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is definitely way above your work.

While “The Return of the Native” is the other way around. It’s so damn thick! I can no longer carry the novel every day when I go to the office. Initially, I am able to bring the book but it gradually becomes such a burden in my bag that already contains net book, cable, and other little stuff that makes my bag is quite heavy for a little woman like me. *sigh*

And the story is not as good as previous three novels from the English writer. So there you go. I get stuck with the book and I don’t count how many times I experience such kind of thing. Prior to this, I give up reading “Middlemarch” by George Eliot and “Impressions of Theophrastus Such” by the same author. From this experience, I won’t never ever touch any books by George Eliot. I simply dislike her long sentence writing style like William Faulkner’s.

Even I have this kind of experience with my most beloved author, John Steinbeck. After reading “East of Eden”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “Of Mice and Men”, “Tortilla Flat”, I can’t believe that I need years to complete reading “In Dubious Battle” (and on-and-off reading process, of course). The novel is too political, too heavy, and too dark. To my surprise, Steinbeck’s writing is completely not smooth at all. I can’t feel any emotions while reading the book.

The worst experience about this is when I read “Fury” by Salman Rushdie. I can’t help digesting his coarse words all over the book. Plus, the story is too depressing. I don’t why I buy the book anyway. The novel is so expensive for me, about Rp176,000. *crying on the floor*

So, that’s my experience with unfinished reading novels. And the question will be on how I reclaim my enthusiasm with “The Return of the Native”? Should I really stop like I did in the past or I resume reading it?