Posts From Author: mary ann evans

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 […]
Read More