In Middlemarch, the novelist known as George Eliot (but in real life named Mary Ann Evans) created one of great masterpieces in the history of fiction.  Many people think it the greatest novel in the English language and Eliot one of literature’s greatest stylists.  Her capacity for psychological, ethical, and social analysis is unrivaled.  Her humor is subtle, delightful, and humane.
“It is the habit of my imagination,” Eliot wrote, “to strive after as full a vision of the medium in which a character moves as of the character itself.”  Middlemarch immerses us in the medium of a society confronting profound changes and introduces us to memorable characters attempting to navigate, embrace, or resist those changes, in ways that are both specific to 19th-century Britain and still relevant today.  What do you do when your ambition exceeds the scope of your life possibilities?  How should you choose a mate?  How much compromise is acceptable in pursuit of your goals?  How do societies treat outsiders or misfits who challenge the status quo?  These are just a few of the abiding questions Eliot explores in Middlemarch.
Middlemarch is long – the Victorians liked novels that way – but we will take plenty of time to get to know it.  Meeting once a week for 90 minutes per session, the class will run for the entire semester, allowing 13 weeks for about 900 pages.  We’ll be able to dwell for a while with a masterwork eminently worth dwelling with.