Monday, May 25, 2009

Middlemay 4: Three Love Problems

Hi Everybody! How's the reading going? Status reports, favorite passages?


Moonrat said...

i'll go first... i'm not done yet! ack! i'm about 2/3 of the way through.


off i run to read this morning so i can come in for the discussion in the afternoon!

moonrat said...

Ok, I'll also go second. I'm done! And I realized with some great satisfaction that if we've made it this far, we're well over half-way through (by the number of pages)!!

From this section... I hate Casaubon even more. He's just so detestable. First, the way he is so judgmental toward everyone else, just assuming that his opinion/life is worth more than theirs; and second, the fact that he's USELESS and has never done anything with the learning that he thinks has set him apart. Judgmental and useless. Two sins that are so much worse when applied in tandem.

My favorite line is from Chapter 36, re: purchasing expensive dishes, when Lydgate says one must hire servants who won't break them:

"Certainly, this was reasoning with an imperfect vision of sequences. But at that period there was no sort of reasoning which was not more or less sanctioned by men of science."


moonrat said...

Ok, one more question. The back flap of my edition (Oxford) describes Lydgate as a "brilliant but morally flawed physician." I have to be honest--I don't see the morally flawed bit yet. Is it still to come? Or is this coming from the whole election sequence, where Lydgate cast the deciding vote? I thought his logic there was the opposite of morally flawed--he ended up voting for the candidate he thought would be better in the position instead of the candidate his neighbors wanted to win out of kindness to him.

Or is there some horrible revelation of character still to come? I don't find him unlikable at the moment. He's a little awkward, but who have we seen who isn't?

Sandra Gail Lambert said...

Hey All,

Both my favorite quotes this week are from or about Mr. Casaubon.

"...irritated feeling with him, as with all of us, seeking rather for justification than for self-knowledge."

"- namely, that he was not unmixedly adorable. He suspected this, however, as he suspected other things, without confessing it, and like the rest of us, felt how soothing it would have been to have a companion who would never find it out."

Yes, Moonrat, it is disturbing to me how much I relate to Mr. Casaubon, especially since I really, really want him to die and leave Dorothea a rich widow.

moonrat said...

Ha! I'm desperate for him to die, too!! Are we evil?

(I'm also hoping the rich widow runs off with the sexy brooding cousin/nephew!)

Sandra Gail Lambert said...

We are not evil since these people never existed for real. I keep forgetting that.

Me, personally, I'm hoping that Dorothea and Rosamond hook up. I know, not likely, but I can hope. And there's a great scene in the next section where they meet for the first time.

Anonymous said...

The thing that amuses me with Lydgate is how annoyed he is that one word from him and Rosamond does what she likes :)

I hated Casaubon too, but at the point I'm up to (Chapter 61), the only characters I like are Mrs Cadwaller and Caleb.

I just finished the scene at the auction which was hilarious (to me-so it may not actually be hilarious), and a new character has appeared to throw a spanner in the works so I can't wait to find out what that's about!

I'm having a really tough time with the political side of the novel though - I think I will have to do some research.

Sandra Gail Lambert said...

Briony, If you do that political research, please, please tell us what's going on.

moonrat said...

I second that.

Linda said...

I am 40 pages away from Book 4.

I HAD PLANNED to spend much of yesterday lying in my hammock reading and munching on meringues... but two catastrophes happened: 1/ my trusty laptop died a quiet death after 6 years (everything backed up but still a pain to configure, etcetera onto the new laptop-in-waiting) and MUCH WORSE 2/ my blog was removed because some blankety-blank hacker slid some nasty html into one of my widgets. I am waging war with blogger now.

Sorry to hijack this thread.

Loving Fred, loving Will, and even loving Dorothea as she awakens to the mess she's wrought.

It seemed it took Eliot a good 100 pages to warm up to her subject. Glad I've slogged through. Peace, Linda

Linda said...

Oh, and how many times can Eliot use the word physiogomy? Love it.

I am also VERY impressed at the epic proportions of this story. Remember: Eliot was a scholar, she had other occupations including doing a heck of a lot of translations from German, but she imagined this entire society with all these quirky characters. And she wrote the entire thing in longhand.

A Tolkien before her time.

Peace, Linda

moonrat said...

Linda--AND she wrote it in less than a year!! It's crazy!!

I read about your computer death (my most sincere condolences, btw; I had a recent such tragedy myself) on my Google reader, then tried to log into your blog to leave an RIP comment, and all these flashing red flags came up and told me your blog had been removed. I was sad and confused, but now I see you here! So I am slightly happier.

PurpleClover said...

Wow. I haven't finished but if Causabon hasn't died yet then I'm in no hurry. LOL. I'm sure I'll finish four tonight though. But I must admit I'm not sure about Lydgate's flaw yet. Except that he is willing to overspend in order to impress his bride and her parents. Maybe he'll turn into a gambler?? Who knows! It is getting interesting.

BTW - for anyone wanting to get some writing done, I'm hosting a write-a-thon for June & July (42k words). No rules, no losers, all winners. :D

Linda said...

Moonie, 1 year? Now I really feel inadequate... Rebuilding the old bloggo now in prep. Have most of my posts but not my comments, my links...

PC, does blog rebuilding count as words? Would love to join you...

Peace, Linda

Precie said...

moonie--Lydgate's moral weaknesses become clearer later.

Hmmm...the political stuff...I'll have to dig around in my notes/stacks.

physiognomy--this was one of the big fads of the day, especially as the whole notion of scientific understanding was becoming hugely popular, one of the reasons I love the Victorian age...this general is the time of Darwin, the discovery of dinosaur fossils, the embryonic pool for psychology. The notion that you could learn things about people's true selves, their values and character, by studying the shape of their face and head was fascinating. Heck, if there were any hard science to back it up today, it would still be fascinating. :)

Throughout my academic career, one of my greatest fears was that I would be a Casaubon--devoting my life to a misguided search for Truth that I was too incompetent and blind to really access. I'm still not sure I won't be. ;)

moonrat said...

thanks, Precie :) see, already you've contributed more than (i have a feeling) Casaubon ever will.

Becky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becky said...

I'm halfway through book four at this point. I keep hoping that I can sit down and actually get caught up. But it's hard to take this one more than two chapters at a time.

Anyone getting frustrated by the long quotations in French? I just hope they're not *too* important. It frustrates me that there are chunks of text that are unintelligible to me. But I don't have the patience to try to pick out what it means for myself either :)

I'll be back, hopefully, in a day or two if I can get book four done!

moonrat said...

I could definitely do without the French!!

Linda said...

Thanks for the info on physiognomy. Lydgate fascinates me with his medical quackery dressed up as science. But that's what they thought then.

I think I have Causabon tendencies as well - the damn ivory tower brings it out in me. Hence my escape into poetry and novel writing.

This entire book is so detailed with the culture and science of that period. I keep flipping to wickipedia to find out more.

Book 4 infinitely more interesting, perhaps because the focus is on the more intersting characters. Will strikes me as so impetuous, which I love.

Okay, off to the day job which, for the first time in months, has nothing which absolutely must be done today. I think I will clear off my cluttered desk and see what horrors I've missed... Peace, Linda

Jolie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jolie said...

Whoops, I'm late to the discussion! I finished book 4 way ahead of time, but was too busy last week to comment. Anyway, here's my favorite passage, from the scene where Rosamond tells Lydgate that her father might not approve of their engagement:

"I never give up anything that I choose to do," said Rosamond, recovering her calmness at the touching of this cord.

"God bless you!" said Lydgate, kissing her again. This constancy of purpose in the right place was adorable.
So he likes her stubbornness ... but only when she agrees with him! Eliot is probably planting this issue with the intent to use if for conflict in the Lydgates' marriage later. Sooner or later, Rosamond's constancy won't be in what Lydgate considers "the right place."

I'm still loving the Garth family scenes. One beautiful moment: Alfred calling Mary "an old brick," and Mary's emotional reaction to the compliment.

Becky said...

Finally finished book four. It is by far, my favorite so far. I'm a bit surprised we're still meeting new characters at this point. There are times the jumping from character to character annoys me. But at other times it's really refreshing to get a change of pace.

Jen A said...

Woo-hoo! I did it! I really do hope to catch up this week, finishing book 5 and then having book 6 done on time too. We'll see, no promises, but that's the plan.

I don't like Casaubon, but I kinda feel sorry for him. He's like one of those super-angry people who's never happy about anything anyone ever does because he always expects the worst. And I feel bad for people who live their lives in that kind of misery. That said: PLEASE let him die soon!!

I like Sir James still; I want to see more of him and Mr. Farebrother both. I don't know what the deal is with Lydgate yet, but there's something about him that's just kind of smarmy and irritating. I LOVED the chapter near the end with the Garth family. I love them so much - I want nothing but happiness and cheer for them!