When I first decided to read through the list of important books from various historical time frames in addition to reading around the world, I noted that there were a few I had already read. I haven’t posted about them yet, because it is much more fun to read new things than to try and remember a book from the past. But, already thinking about posting at some point, today’s WordHigh July writing prompt reminded me of my recollection of the book Middlemarch, by George Elliot.
The word for today is: Silakbo (n) emotional outburst. It reminded me of Middlemarch, because my main memory of the book is that when I finished it, I felt irritated at some of the characters. There is conflict between characters, largely because of differing expectations of life, which cause significant disappointment, shame, frustation and bitterness. I remember being particularly annoyed at the downfall of Dr Lydgate, and the loss of what could have been a great, productive life. I felt it such a shame that I only remembered what I considered the ‘bad’ things about the book.
Imagine my surprise then, when I was looking up the book on the internet to refresh my memory, and I discovered that it is considered one of the most important historical works of English literature! The book is set around 40 years before George Elliot wrote it, and it is thus actually a work of historical fiction. I read that she in fact did detailed research and is considered to have written a very accurate and incisive description of the people’s habits and psychology, the societies structure, and the reaction of a small town to the changes of the times. It also appears I didn’t remember falsely the overall negative themes of the book- but that others find it “kind of addictive discomfort, a sequence of raw truths”.
I decided to give it another chance, but rather than re-read the whole thing, I would watch the TV series (BBC, 1994). I am partway through that, and I think I can see the appeal- the characters are interesting and varied, and the story is really driven by how the inner working of different people affect their interactions. All in all I concede that it is a ‘good’ work of literature. Although I remember a conversation with my sister a little while ago- she is of the opinion that it doesn’t matter how ‘good’ or ‘important’ all these famous works are, they will never be as enjoyable as a good fantasy novel! Sometimes I agree.