Posts From Author: charles dickens

Middlemarch Revisited: Rebecca Mead on the Life of a Classic

It’s funny that Middlemarch, a place name that could scarcely sound more English, should be without lexical precedent in the maps of its homeland. As Rebecca Mead informs us in her lovely book My Life in Middlemarch (Crown Publishing, 2014), there aren’t any other towns in England suffixed “-march.” Yet its cadence is perfect (particularly to Midlands ears like my own). “It implies that the book,” says Mead, “with its subtitle, ‘A Study of Provincial Life,’ will be concerned with that which is absolutely pedestrian and ordinary. Provincialism — geographical, emotional — will be at its heart.” What’s not pedestrian is Mead’s rather wonderful book on the subject. Mixing biography and autobiography, literary criticism and social history, she arrives at something that, in the end, approaches the profundity of Middlemarch‘s own famous final lines. At the heart of Mead’s Life is a notion of existence, at its best, as an ever-enlarging sphere of sympathy. Prized above all is the capacity, acquired through time and imagination, to appreciate that while “we each have our own center of gravity,” yet “others weigh the world differently than we do […] The necessity of growing out of such self-centeredness is the theme of Middlemarch.” Often, as she retraces Eliot’s […]
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BOOKTHEWRITER for the Perfect Book Group

Last month comedian Andy Borowitz lamented the irony that although we now live in an age of free content we sadly don’t live in an age of free food. Indeed, as seems to be the dominant model in a world of 99%ers and 1%ers, only the most commercially successful writers can really get by. Fortunately all is not lost. We at the House of SpeakEasy, of course, provide a monthly platform for writers at our Seriously Entertaining events at City Winery. But there are also other fantastic initiatives out there that are bringing writers and readers together and ensuring that writers are properly compensated for their work. Last year the novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz came to much the same conclusion as Andy Borowitz. And so she established BOOKTHEWRITER, offering readers a unique opportunity: the chance to invite your favourite writer to join your book group. Jean has recruited a fabulous list of nearly a hundred New York-based authors and poets to the cause, including Zoë Heller (Notes On A Scandal), Rick Moody (The Ice Storm) and Julie Salamon (The Devil’s Candy), all of whom are available (for a $750 fee) to appear at book groups in Manhattan and Brooklyn. If […]
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