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My Life in Middlemarch (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – Rauer Buchschnitt, 28. Januar 2014
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New York Times Bestseller
New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
A Huffington Post Best Book of the Year
A BookPage Best Book of the Year
A Chicago Reader Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
A Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Featured on the Entertainment Weekly "Must" List
One of The Guardian (UK) Ten Best Books of the Year-So-Far
"My Life in Middlemarch is a poignant testimony to the abiding power of fiction." —Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review
"Clearly, this book was a pleasure for Mead to write—it's personal, intimate, yet rigorously researched—and it seems to have deepened her relationship with the novel she loves so much. Her passion proves infectious for the reader as well, and My Life in Middlemarch will surely encourage readers to discover Eliot's masterpiece for the first time — what an enviable experience — or, like Mead, to regard it as a lifelong and steadfast companion." —USA Today
"Fans of this Victorian mainstay — or, really, any book lover in a passionate long-term relationship with a novel — will find Mead's research and analysis deeply gratifying. And if you haven't ever read Middlemarch, Mead's lucid writing will send you straight to the bookstore... A-." —Entertainment Weekly
"Anyone who believes that books have the power to shape lives and that 'our own lives can teach us how to read a book' will respond with fascination and delight to Mead’s evolving appreciation of the richness and relevance of Eliot’s masterwork." —Priscilla Gilman, O Magazine
"Part memoir, part biography, part literary appreciation, My Life in Middlemarch is pure pleasure." —NPR
"Mead’s middle-aged rediscovery of Middlemarch—and her insights into Eliot’s rich middle age—is not to be missed." —The Atlantic
"My Life in Middlemarch, which I loved, follows not just the different things Mead got out of Middlemarch at different times in her life, but her personal, even tactile attempts to better know Eliot."—Washington Post
“If Eliot’s work is the candle, Mead’s is the bright sconce reflecting the flame.” – Boston Globe
"It would be difficult to find a novel more likely to reward multiple rereadings than Eliot’s — or a richer, more complete or more moving demonstration of its lasting power than My Life in Middlemarch." —Laura Miller, Salon
"My Life in Middlemarch is a deeply sympathetic and intelligent account of one woman’s 'profound experience with a book', without doubt a love letter to Eliot’s masterpiece, but also an important meditation on how our life experiences shape our reading, and our reading shapes how we choose to live our lives." —The Daily Beast
"Mead’s writing will make you want to read Middlemarch if you haven’t, and re-read it if you have. Mead’s is a wonderful close reading of not just a book, but also a life, and a life in reading."—Slate
"[Mead] invites empathy, an exercise of which George Eliot would be unmistakably proud."—Emily Rapp, Boston Globe
"Mead's work stands out for its brevity (beside its voluminous source), for its calm (no violence and few sudden moves), and for its perfect match of writer and subject." –San Francisco Gate
"'Generating the experience of sympathy was what her fiction was for,' Mead writes of Eliot. And that is precisely what Mead’s own book accomplishes as well. Mead not only cements Middlemarch’s status as a work of profound genius and inestimable import, but she returns the humanity to its pages." —The New Republic
"Mead beautifully conveys the excitement of living in a novel, of knowing its characters as if they breathed, of revisiting them over time and seeing them differently. She conveys, too, not at all heavy-handedly, the particular relationship one develops with an author whose work one loves….There is a meticulous underlying order to the book, structured to mirror Middlemarch itself, but as in a letter, the effect is of spontaneous movement, the particular thrill of following a mind untrammeled." —Claire Messud, Bookforum
"In this nuanced look at Middlemarch, Mead offers a fresh and vibrant portrait of Eliot, an entrancing memoir and a passionate homage to the riches of rereading."—Newsday
"Mead's journey is in the service of an intellectual pilgrimage, her attempt to 'discern the ways in which George Eliot's life shaped her fiction, and how her fiction shaped her.' There are pleasures to be gleaned from this quest. For one thing, My Life in Middlemarch serves as an astute primer on the novel." –Chicago Tribune
"This is, quite simply, heaven in book form."—The Sunday Times
"This is Mead’s life inside a book, inside the fictional Midlands village Eliot created. By the end, though, this could be your life, too. As Mead writes, 'She makes Middlemarchers of us all.'" —Newsweek
“Though Mead's regard for Eliot is obvious, you don't need to be a Middlemarch fan to appreciate My Life in Middlemarch. If a book has ever truly spoken to you, you'll be able to relate.”—The Week
"Gracefully executed." —Kathryn Schulz, New York
"One need not read the [lengthy] 1874 classic to appreciate this new work, which pays tribute not only to Eliot, but also to all book lovers who see novels as good friends worthy of frequent revisits." —New York Post
“It is delightful that a writer as thorough and serious as Mead draws attention to so many types of joy, including the ‘larger vista, a landscape changed by books, reshaped by reading’ that might be the ultimate joy that comes from reading. That’s what My Life in Middlemarch offers: a landscape changed, a powerful joy.” –The Rumpus
“Mead elegantly intertwines the novel’s intersections with Eliot’s biography, as well as with Mead’s own plotline: First as an intellectually curious adolescent in provincial England, yearning for life’s adventures to begin; then as an aspiring journalist in New York, dating an older man and facing disappointment, professional and personal; and finally—and most movingly—as a mother and stepparent opening her heart to an unruly brand of joy.” –Vogue.com
"[Mead's] captivating and lucid book mixes biography, memoir and close reading to symphonic effect." —Financial Times
“A combination of thorough research, elegant writing, and a willingness to admit when things remain ‘unavailable or obscure’ makes Mead a commendable guide… In My Life in Middlemarch she is committed to telling the full truth of what she uncovers, resisting the temptation to downplay context and complexity to suit her own purposes. The result is highly rewarding—a reflection on the novel that contains compelling depths of its own… Her thoughtful tribute to the power of Middlemarch will send any reader back to Eliot’s work with eyes newly opened to its treasures.” – Commonweal
"There is lots more to quote in this eminently quotable book, especially Mead’s many insightful reflections on the various characters besides Dorothea Brooke in Middlemarch. 'The greatest benefit we owe to the artist, whether painter, poet, or novelist, is the extension of our sympathies,' she quotes Eliot. My Life in Middlemarch is Mead’s exploration of this benefit as well as an ambitious agenda for a memoir. I feel pleasurably enriched to have read it." —Arts Fuse
"My Life in Middlemarch has a third major theme as well — the enduring power of literature. 'Reading is sometimes thought of as a form of escapism, and it's a common turn of phrase to speak of getting lost in a book,' Mead writes. 'But a book can also be where one finds oneself; and when a reader is grasped and held by a book, reading does not feel like an escape from life so much as it feels like an urgent, crucial dimension of life itself.' Anyone who agrees with that sentiment is likely to enjoy this engaging book." —Associated Press
"If there is a perfect book to start the year with it has to be Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch." —The Edge
"Ambitious, elegant, intense and absorbing—even if Middlemarch is not your favorite book."—Literary Review
"Mead's long experience of profile-writing shows in the effortless ease of her prose."—The Evening Standard
"Rebecca Mead’s new book is thought-provoking, wonderfully insightful and satisfying. It speaks to any reader who may reflect upon the subliminal touch a remarkable book may have had on one’s own life."—The Frederiscksburg Freelance-Star
“Mead is both learned and astute; on the page she comes off as an inquiring mind, on par with Eliot and her beloved heroine, Dorothea Brooke: sensitive, cunning, and winningly relatable… My Life in Middlemarch achieves what good criticism strives to accomplish: it compels the reader to seek out the original text and experience it for herself… Mead reminds us why one is a book person in the first place.” – Harvard Review Online
"In this deeply satisfying hybrid work of literary criticism, biography, and memoir, New Yorker staff writer Mead brings to vivid life the profound engagement that she and all devoted readers experience with a favorite novel over a lifetime....Passionate readers, even those new to Middlemarch, will relish this book." —Publishers Weekly (starred)
"A rare and remarkable fusion of techniques that draws two women together across time and space." —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"Mead demonstrates through her own story how literature can change and transform lives. For this reason, even the reader who has never heard of George Eliot will find Mead's crisp, exacting prose absorbing and thought-provoking." —Library Journal (starred)
"[Mead] performs an exhilarating, often surprising close reading of the novel, which Eliot began writing at age 51 in 1870. And she takes a fresh look at Eliot’s daringly unconventional life, visiting the writer’s homes and casting light not only on the author’s off-the-charts intellect but also her valor in forthrightly addressing complex moral issues, cutting sense of humor, 'large, perceptive generosity,' and the deep love she shared with critic and writer George Henry Lewes and his sons. Mead injects just enough of her own life story to take measure of the profound resonance of Eliot’s progressive, humanistic viewpoint, recognition of the heroism of ordinary lives, and crucial central theme, 'a young woman’s desire for a substantial, rewarding, meaningful life.'" —Booklist (starred)
"In the wonderful and thoughtful My Life in Middlemarch, Rebecca Mead revisits her love of George Eliot's novel to consider what makes it great--and the ways life and art inform and imitate each other. The result is a lively, wide-ranging appreciation of one of the greatest novels in the English language, through the lens of Mead's observations on its shifting resonance throughout her own life."—Shelf Awareness
"Rebecca Mead has written a singular and inventive tale about her favorite book, and how it has changed — and changed her — over many years of reading and re-reading. Anyone who has ever loved the characters in a novel as dearly as we love our own families will recognize the passion, the devotion, the intimacy and the joy of returning again and again to a revered classic. Both a memoir and a biography, both an homage and a homecoming, My Life in Middlemarch is a perfectly composed offering of literary love and self-observation. I adored it, and it will forever live on my bookshelf next to my own precious paperbacks of George Eliot." —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things
"Rebecca Mead's My Life in Middlemarch is a wise, humane, and delightful study of what some regard as the best novel in English. Mead has discovered an original and highly personal way to make herself an inhabitant both of the book and of George Eliot's imaginary city. Though I have read and taught the book these many years I find myself desiring to go back to it after reading Rebecca Mead's work." —Harold Bloom
"Not quite biography, not quite memoir, not quite literary criticism, My Life in Middlemarch is a wonderfully intelligent exploration of a great novel and its great author. I loved Mead's empathy, her insight and her restraint and I devoured her deliciously readable pages." —Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy
"Rebecca Mead’s marvelous book tells us everything we need to know about the greatest of all English novels. She gives us Middlemarch’s characters–their marriages, their world–and she gives us George Eliot herself, a woman whose self-doubt led her into wisdom. But that’s just the start. Mead reads with passion and care, and she allows the novel to irradiate her own life–to tell her, with each successive rereading, just who she is and how she’s changed. Indeed she suggests that Middlemarch is the book that made her grow up, and in showing us the difference it’s made to her she shows how it can make a difference in your own life too." —Michael Gorra, author of Portrait of a Novel
"My Life in Middlemarch is both unclassifiable and irresistible: a smart, absorbing glimpse into two lives—George Eliot’s and Rebecca Mead’s—as well as a lively meditation on Middlemarch. Intelligent, insightful, and generous in her judgments, Mead is a delightful guide—winsome and engaging." —Adelle Waldman, author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
REBECCA MEAD is a staff writer for The New Yorker. She is also the author of One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding and recently contributed a foreword to the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition of Middlemarch. She lives in Brooklyn.
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Mead is a natural writer. Her prose just glides effortlessly (which is not at all effortless for a writer to accomplish), making it so easy to sink into the book and forget the world. I became lost in it, reveling in Victorian era literature. And, though I'd never heard of her previously, I felt I had a good sense of who she was personally from how thoroughly she described the impact the book really had on her. She brought the book, George Eliot and the whole era alive.
Lovers of Victorian literature, this is your book. It won't disappoint, I positively guarantee it. Those who love books about readers, writing and books will love it, as well.It will probably make my list of top ten reads of 2014.
Middlemarch is a favorite book of the author, Rebecca Mead, and she has read and re-read it throughout her life. I was a little worried that this was going to be a memoir all about the author, with only bits of Middlemarch thrown in. Instead it was nearly the opposite - this book is mostly about Middlemarch and the author of Middlemarch, George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) - with only bits and pieces of the author's life thrown in the mix.
Each time Rebecca Mead has read Middlemarch she has gleaned different meaning from it, and the more she learned about George Eliot and her life, the more common ground she discovered between her and Eliot. It really is amazing how many similarities are found in their lives. In this book Mead breaks down Middlemarch into its books and discusses each section - weaving in biographical information about George Eliot and her family.
I had never read anything about George Eliot before and very much enjoyed learning about her life and the time in which she lived. I also enjoyed another glimpse into Middlemarch and the meaning behind the beloved novel.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed reading Middlemarch and anyone who loves "books about books".
Some of the topics explored here include Eliot's decision to risk ostracism in order to live with George Henry Lewes, a man who helped her enormously with her work, but who was also technically married to someone else; her subsequent marriage to a man twenty years her junior after Lewes' death; her choice to break with her religious upbringing as a young woman; and the contrast between falling in love as a youth and developing a lifelong partnership/marriage. Mead's parents married young and remained in love until her father's death, and while that seemed unglamorous to her as a child, it took on a different, more appealing cast when she became middle-aged herself.
Overall, "My Life in Middlemarch," is both a thorough exploration of Eliot's philosophy, not just in "Middlemarch" but in her other novels, essays, reviews and letters, and a love letter to a book that Mead felt reads her as much as she reads it.
Mead has read George Eliot's Middlemarch (Penguin Classics) four times. The first reading was at age 17. I STILL have not read any work of George Eliot. When I was 15 or 16, I barely escaped being forced to read Silas Marner and Two Short Stories (Barnes & Noble Classics), which the literary scholars in my high school class had universally proclaimed to be the most boring book ever. It was even set in the 19th century, and what could we learn from that? Fortunately we were given the choice of reading the more "hip" The Catcher in the Rye I must have been in my 30's before I discovered that "George" was a woman. Suffice it to say, that Mead and I have approached Eliot from radically different perspectives, and though convergence is unlikely, Mead has served as a wonderful catalyst for me to remediate my ways.
The author has masterfully woven three threads, her own life, Eliot's life, and the characters in Middlemarch, into a coherent whole. Mead examines the many resonances among the three threads, as well as the divergences. No question, a woman's "prospects" were different in the middle of the 19th century than they are today. But many a dilemma remains the same. Is a woman's face her fortune? Mead suggests that Eliot's plain features were instrumental in being her fortune as a writer. And she deftly ties, in a self-deprecating manner, a remark made to her when she was 10 years old with the following quote from "Middlemarch": "To be called an ugly thing in contrast with that lovely creature your companion, is apt to produce some effect beyond a sense of fine veracity and fitness in the phrase."
As Mead says, "Middlemarch" is far more complex that a "woman's novel" about the protagonist, Dorothea Brooke. It is one of the first deeply psychological novels, with the motivations of numerous characters, male and female, being examined. Both Eliot and Mead found love later in life, and each married a man with three sons. I found myself marking numerous passages in the book, for example, Mead quotes Eliot: "It is undeniable, that unions formed in the maturity of thought and feeling, and grounded only on inherent fitness and mutual attraction, tended to bring women into more intelligent sympathy with men." As for Mead's own thoughts, the following scored with me: "one definition of compatibility might be when two people have highlighted the same passages in their editions of a favorite novel. But we each have our own internal version of the book, with lines remembered and resonances felt."
Mead traveled around England, much like Larkin did in Burma, searching for traces of the author who had made the greatest impression on her life. She met with a great, great grandchild of Eliot. She traveled to Edinburgh to read the letters between her and an admirer she never met, by the name of Main. Eliot lived for a considerable period in Coventry and Nuneaton, and it is their landscapes that were the backdrop for "Middlemarch," and thus a place of pilgrimage for Mead. She also covered the relationships, including almost a marital one, with Herbert Spencer, that Eliot had with the intellectual "greats" of the period.
I've started re-reading a number of books that I first read 30 or 40 years ago, to determine how much I missed, or in some cases, was bamboozled by, the book the first time around. Never have I read a book four times, particularly one that is 800 pages, and so Mead's observation that it was a different, and richer read, in each decade, was notable. To a lesser extent, Mead covers The Mill on the Floss and actually convinced me to read it first, since it is very much about the lifelong impact on an individual of the landscape of their youth; their "inertial reference frame" as it were. But for sure, I intend to enjoy Middlemarch, at least once, and now know that although they might not be in the same league as my high school literary scholar classmates of yore, both Martin Amis and Julian Barnes consider "Middlemarch" the greatest English novel. Dollops of motivation to atone for a wayward youth.
Rebecca Mead wears her erudition well, and conveys it in a moving account of how literature can inspire and shape a person's development, even if that literature was written in the 19th century! The chief omission that I saw, and it seems to be begging for attention: a comparison of this George with the other literary female George of the 19th century, George Sand, whom I have read, and consider to be an even more remarkable woman. In the fullness of time, perhaps. As for this time, and effort, 5-stars, plus.
Mead says that we are united by the books that affect us, and so I expected to feel a kinship with Mead and for her to open up her life to me at each of the three points at which she read and reread Middlemarch. Alas, the most intimate things I learned about Rebecca Mead--the name of her husband and the names of her stepchlildren and son-- were in her acknowledgements page. The reticence grew more and more irritating to me. For instance, I found it annoying that Mead, who is renowned as a New Yorker writer and literary critic, coyly refused to refer to the New Yorker by name when she mentioned her years of fact checking and later writing for "a weekly magazine." And yet, when she does offer more than a glimpse into her life, she awkwardly tries to create parallels between Eliot's life and her own (not between Middlemarch and her own) as when she writes in an extended chapter on George Eliot's role as stepmother to Lewes' children. Her meditations on Eliot as coming late to motherhood are illuminating in themselves, but I don't think of Middlemarch as being a book in which Eliot emphasized what it means to be a parent or a stepparent, for that matter. Mead herself notes this; in the one spot where she talks more openly about her relationship with a man who had a young daughter, she says, Middlemarch "had nothing to tell me" about falling in love with someone who came with a prior emotional commitment that superseded their own. Mead provides sketches of key points in her life, a love affair gone wrong, her time at Oxford, her early career hopes, her later more fulfilling love with an older man who is now her husband. However, her treatment of her own life is so superficial compared to her in-depth discussion of Eliot's life.
And yet...I wouldn't say that the book is a total disappointment. Mead has done her research thoroughly, and I was interested in her take on Eliot's early disappointment in love with Herbert Spenser and her correspondence with a fawning Scottish admirer, Alexander Main, who published a book of Eliot's maxims. I was also very interested in Mead's interpretation of Eliot's philosophy of "meliorism," her morality, and how what interested Eliot most was a sympathetic viewpoint of her fellow humans. Mead gives wonderful synopses and analyses of portions of Middlemarch as well. Still, I felt like someone who had been promised a full, satisfying dinner who has been given a small plate with some artfully arranged tidbits. The best thing about it: the prospect of reading it made me go back to Middlemarch, which I had read thirty years before. Now, that was a more than satisfying meal.
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