Middlemarch (Centaur Classics) [The 100 greatest novels of all time - #14]
"One of the few English novels written for grown-up people." —Virginia Woolf "What do I think of ‘Middlemarch’? What do I think of glory — except that in a few instances this 'mortal has already put on immortality.' George Eliot was one. The mysteries of human nature surpass the 'mysteries of redemption,' for the infinite we only suppose, while we see the finite." —Emily Dickinson "‘Middlemarch’ is probably the greatest English novel." —Julian Barnes "They've [women] produced the greatest writer in the English language ever, George Eliot, and arguably the third greatest, Jane Austen, and certainly the greatest novel, ‘Middlemarch’..." —Martin Amis
By the time the novel appeared to tremendous popular and critical acclaim in 1871-2, George Eliot was recognized as England's finest living novelist. It was her ambition to create a world and portray a whole community--tradespeople, middle classes, country gentry--in the rising provincial town of Middlemarch, circa 1830. Vast and crowded, rich in narrative irony and suspense, «Middlemarch» is richer still in character, in its sense of how individual destinies are shaped by and shape the community, and in the great art that enlarges the reader's sympathy and imagination. It is truly, as Virginia Woolf famously remarked, 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people'.