Boozy Books: Middlemarch Revisited

Heyo! It’s C! Welcome to Boozy Books! Unfortunately, I actually haven’t read anything new recently. I’ve purchased tons of new books to read (because who isn’t continually adding to their TBR pile), but haven’t really taken the time to delve into them because of NaNo. (For the record, I’m at 21540 words right now, so I think I’ve got a decent handle on it, thankfully.) As I always need to be reading something, I decided that this was a perfect time to re-read one of my most favoritest (I know that’s not a word, I swear) books in the world: Middlemarch.

I know I’ve already paired it before (I think I chose an English ale), but for me, it’s a book that has so many facets and so many interesting things that I can always find something new to love about it. I have also come to dislike a lot of things about it. Not in the structure or the writing, but in the reaction I have to certain characters. In general, I like the same characters: Dorothea and Will Ladislaw, Fred Vincy, and definitely Mary Garth (who has been a favorite since the first moment I met her because, well, who doesn’t like someone who can laugh at everything but not at what matters). Some characters, like James Chettam, have grown in my esteem, though not enough to like them (his great… ordinariness will always bother me somewhat) so much as not dislike them.

The big change comes in the depth of my dislike for Middlemarch as a character, as a town made up of people resistant to change and insistent upon doing things the only way they’ve ever known. They’re gloriously devoted to stodgy sameness, to a way of life that is completely and totally insular and which celebrates Truth as it suits them rather than how it is. And, reading this novel during… these times… my intense dislike for that kind of almost studious resistance to intellectualism was writ large on that page. Middlemarch itself became the villain for me, chipping away at people who were unusual or driven by something larger, or perhaps not quite so concrete or tangible. One big reason I love Dorothea so much is that she is able to temper her tremulous, febrile dreams into something tangible… and overcome that Middlemarch so-called truth. One being reason I don’t like Lydgate and actually feel sorry for Rosamond Vincy is because, for all his vaunted dreams of changing the world, he is actually far more mundane than Dorothea. He marries Rosamond because she is what a wife ‘should be’. In the end, Lydgate has his own Truth that he is unable to give up. He isn’t willing, like Dorothea, to throw everything away for that transcendence into something more. And Rosamond Vincy, bless her, cannot grasp that intellectual dreamer in Lydgate. He marries her because she is that Middlemarch Truth and then expects her to understand that he means to be something More.

It’s stuff like this that makes me love this novel so much. That I can read it and see my own world reflected, and to constantly be finding new things in it. There’s so many layers, so much to see and learn and reveal with subsequent readings. As such, I am amending my original pairing. I am recommending a layered drink. Something where the flavors change as you drink because you’ve found something entirely new the further along you go. Something that you can’t really identify. And since it’s all very personal — Middlemarch is what we each make of it — I am leaving it up to you to choose which drink you want. Create your own layers… because that’s what Middlemarch has done for me.

I’ll be back on Sunday with some much, much, MUCH NEEDED SILLY.

C

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