I spent my lunch hour today listening to a podcast panel discussion on George Elliot’s masterpiece, Middlemarch, first published in 1871. The panel of Elliot scholars, all women, were interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel on CBC Radio months back.
I can identify with the young women in Middlemarch who hold a fierce idealism about marriage and family and with those who want to find a greater purpose in their lives. I can also identify with the same women having to come to terms with a less-than-perfect world, relationships that are not textbook, and lives that have been touched by grief. Perhaps what I appreciate most about George Elliot’s rendering of the reality of women’s lives is her compassionate gaze on all the characters, men and women, even those whom I don’t like.
Give it a listen, even if you haven’t read the book and don’t plan to. What the book and the panel have to say about women and marriage and writing is still timely.