Shame or no shame… Middlemarch.

I had a brilliant idea for my concluding blog post about Middlemarch, which I read as part of an online read-along that Arti initiated. We were pretty much finished by the end of June. Even I had read the last page before the last day of that month, but I’ve been ruminating and composing in my mind for weeks more now, with nothing substantial to show for it.

The title of my article would be “Shame-Bearers of Middlemarch,” and I had in mind Dorothea, Lydgate, Mrs. Bulstrode, and probably some others. But I have decided that I don’t know enough about shame or about the characters of Middlemarch, even if I have read the book twice, and read a few articles by Fr. Stephen Freeman on the subject of shame, and… well, nothing more, really.

The world of this novel is so vast and deep, it gives me the feeling of having only passed through briefly, and making the barest acquaintance with the rich characters. Eliot has been generous to let us listen in on conversations, even within the townspeople’s own hearts, but I find I still don’t have don’t have enough material to give me confidence in my thesis.

I don’t feel any shame in admitting my paucity of wisdom, though I do feel a little embarrassment at my feeble farewell. I am humbled in the face of this magnificent book. It really is worth reading many times, but I fear that I didn’t get started early enough in life. Thank you, Arti, for prompting this read, which has been so worthwhile, and thank you to Pippin for letting me revisit and use her lovely photos of England; now I think I will watch the TV series!

2 thoughts on “Shame or no shame… Middlemarch.

  1. Gretchen, this post reminded me that I meant to order this book after reading your previous ones on it so I just did that very thing after searching for one with a little larger print. I have a feeling I’ll need that and also have a feeling that this book might be a January book to sink deep into during the winter quiet. You mentioned a television series. I think I need to find that as this might be one book I need to see visually first. Can you tell me how you find it on TV? Thank you!


  2. My husband and I started watching the BBC series, it doesn’t even begin to hold a spark to the quality and depth of the novel itself. The manner in which Eliot as you say, “allowed us to listen in on the conversations” of the characters was part of its fascinating pull. I look forward to your thesis on this book, please do consider writing it. I am very glad I read it. Whether I take the time to read it again only time will tell. But I agree it is a book worth revisiting, I for one would enjoy more delving.


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