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Old 24th Jul 2004, 15:52   #11
John Self
suffers from smallness of vision
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Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
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Originally Posted by Jerkass
First, I find all of the sections in which Eliot stops to explain, "This is how things were back then," to be quite helpful, although I wonder if those sections would have bored her audience at the time. ... It's hard not to suspect that Eliot might have included these sections with an eye toward future generations of readers.
No doubt; but isn't it also the case that Middlemarch is an historical novel, published in 1871 but set around 1830 (and so actually pre-Victorian)? It's tempting for us - I certainly do - to presume that anything written more than 100 years ago must have been describing the society of that time, and finer distinctions of a few decades here and there become lost. So Eliot could also have been telling her late 19th century readers what things were like in the early 19th century. It's interesting to think that, for example, if Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day (published in the 1980s but set in the 1940s) or Patrick McGrath's Asylum (published in the 1990s but set in the 1950s) are still being read in the early 22nd century, readers of that time will probably think of them as contemporary novels of their time.

I say all this is a Middlemarch ignoramus and am open to accusations of damn-foolery.
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