Saturday, January 1, 1972

George Eliot's Middlemarch published 100 years ago this year

First posted 7/3/2020; last updated 7/5/2020.

Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life

George Eliot

First Publication: 1872

Category: realistic English novel

Sales: ?

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

“Often called the greatest nineteenth-century British novelist, George Eliot (the pen name of Mary Ann Evans) created in Middlemarch “one of the great achievements of English literature.” AZ The book focuses on “a vast panorama of life” BN in “the fictitious titular town” AZ and “the intersecting lives of [its] inhabitants.” AZ “The narrative…addresses the status of women, the nature of marriage, politics, religion, and education” AZ with a “gallery of characters drawn from every social class, from laborers and shopkeepers to the rising middle class to members of the wealthy, landed gentry. Together they form an extraordinarily rich and precisely detailed portrait of English provincial life in the 1830s.” BN

“Eliot’s characters make terrible mistakes, but we never lose empathy with them.” TG “At the story’s center stands the intellectual and idealistic Dorothea Brooke – a character who in many ways resembles Eliot herself. But the very qualities that set Dorothea apart from the materialistic, mean-spirited society around her also lead her into a disastrous marriage with a man she mistakes for her soul mate. In a parallel story, young doctor Tertius Lydgate, who is equally idealistic, falls in love with the pretty but vain and superficial Rosamund Vincy, whom he marries to his ruin.” BN

“Strong parallels can be drawn between the two characters; they both have great aspirations in their work and find themselves in marriages in which they are not happy.” AZ “Dorothea’s and Lydgate’s struggles to retain their moral integrity in the midst of temptation and tragedy remind us that their world is very much like our own. Strikingly modern in its painful ironies and psychological insight, Middlemarch was pivotal in the shaping of twentieth-century literary realism.” BN

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Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange published 10 years ago this year

First posted 7/4/2020; updated 7/5/2020.

A Clockwork Orange

Anthony Burgess

First Publication: 1962

Category: dystopian novel/satire

Sales: ?

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian satirical black comedy novel by English writer Anthony Burgess.” WK It is “a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom.” AZ

Burgess had returned to Britain “after his stint abroad to see that much had changed. A youth culture had grown, including coffee bars, pop music and teenage gangs. England was gripped by fears over juvenile delinquency. Burgess claimed that the novel's inspiration was his first wife Lynne's beating by a gang of drunk American servicemen stationed in England during World War II. She subsequently miscarried. In its investigation of free will, the book's target is ostensibly the concept of behaviourism, pioneered by such figures as B. F. Skinner.” WK “According to Burgess, it was…written in just three weeks.” WK

The story “is set in a near future English society featuring a subculture of extreme youth violence” WK “where the criminals take over after dark.” AZ Alex is “a vicious fifteen-year-old droog” AZ who serves as the novel’s protagonist. He “narrates his violent exploits” WK “in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends’ social pathology.” AZ

“When the state undertakes to reform Alex to ‘redeem’ him, the novel asks, ‘At what cost?’” AZ

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