Winter Solstice, and thoughts on Middlemarch Books V & VI.
The first day of winter! And what a wintry day it was. I woke up early (not by choice, admittedly) and there was a thick mist hanging over the forest. Since about 9 o' clock this morning it's rained almost solidly, and there hasn't been a moment where I didn't need a lamp on. It's cold, too, very cold but not the brutal cold of last winter. And there's been snow, but the rain has washed it all away. Even so, I'm feeling rather festive - I've finished my Christmas shopping, just a few bits and bobs to get now (it would appear my Christmas tradition is to forget to buy sellotape. Last year both me and my boyfriend had to wrap presents with electrical tape). And I have my cake to ice, which I'll do tomorrow after (or perhaps during) my great Christmas tidy (I'm sort of looking forward to that!). I am very much looking forward to Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile, I've not been reading Ulysses but I have been continuing Middlemarch. Before I get into that, there's a part of my wondering if I'm ready to re-read Ulysses or if it might not be better to wait until summer. I'm undecided: I'm going to pick it back up on Monday and see how I get on with it.
As for Middlemarch: I've finished Books V and VI, and, as with the other two posts, the rest of this post is for those reading along, or those who have already read it...
I have to admit: my attention is beginning to wane a little. I'm in the habit of reading Middlemarch at the end of the week, usually from Wednesday to Saturday and that approach, I think, is very helpful. Middlemarch was published in serial form, and although I'm hardly reading it as it was published, these brief gaps seem to add something somehow. Clearly not enough, but I think if I decided to read a certain amount a day, it would be too tempting to rush ahead a bit.
So, then: The Dead Hand and The Widow and the Wife. I know that this novel is Middlemarch, a study of provincial life and not Dorothea, a study of her life and loves, but I rather wish that that was the case. I have nothing against the 19th Century 'chunkster' with the multi-plots and myriad of characters, but I'm struggling to take much more than a general interest in anyone other than Dorothea, Will, and the now dead Mr. Casaubon (awful, the way he died the day after asking Dorothea to promise 'something', which, rightly, she has to think about, but, oh, it's too late). It's all very melodramatic, but in a good way. I love this aspect of Middlemarch, the "will they won't they?"
I'm also enjoying Celia and her obsession with motherhood. She's changed a lot, as I imagine one would with motherhood, and it's a bit of light relief.
Lydgate and Rosamond - all very interesting and very sad, and I do like Lydgate. I'm not quite into the descriptions of his professional life as perhaps I ought to be, but there it is. Rosamond has grown viler than ever, and it's well done by Eliot. I wonder how the situation will resolve, and if Rosamond will have some kind of epiphany. Her character is quite fascinating. Her miscarriage - should I hate her for going riding when it was dangerous for her, or think more of her being punished for refusing to stay indoors and "rest"?
The other characters? I am trying with them. Unfortunately for me I glazed over a little and am a little lost with Bulstrode, and I'm sorry about this because there's so much of Middlemarch that I love, and I think I wanted the book to be perfect (perfect in my terms, not universally and unachievable perfection). I'm even beginning to lose interest in Mary Garth and Fred Vincy (Mary is grating on me a lot).
All that said, I am looking forward to continue - I'm not bored by it, the 'other characters' I mean, rather as I see those parts as a hurdle to overcome. It's not the best way of reading this type of novel.
Finally, a quote I very much liked from Book V:
But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.