Sunday, 26 December 2010

Approaching George Eliot

For what, I am sure, seemed a very good reason at the time, I suggested as my next book club choice George Eliot's novel, Daniel Deronda. I'm fairly certain it was because I wanted the group to have to consider the position of the Jews in Victorian England, but why I should have thought that was either appropriate or desirable I can't for the life of me remember.

Well, that must have been at least twelve months ago and now that I'm within six weeks of the event and have started to turn my mind towards preparing for the discussion I've suddenly realised that I know almost nothing of any substance about Eliot nor have I read any of her works for at least thirty years. When I first discovered the author I worked my way through most of the major novels, although I'm fairly certain I've never read Adam Bede, but that was decades ago and the memories I'm left with are of the stories without any recollection of the social and political concerns that inhabit the narratives.

So, perhaps rather recklessly, given that I must also get back to my Titus Andronicus studies and start to tackle the new biography of Andrew Marvel, I've set myself the task of reading at least one critical work and rereading Middlemarch, before I take up Deronda itself. Too much, perhaps, but I've let my mind wallow in nothing but detective novels for the past couple of weeks and I'm beginning to feel mentally as fuggy as I feel physically after too much Christmas fare and I need something to get my literary teeth into. If I can do it it will be good preparation for the Books on the Nightstand discussion of War and Peace, for which I have ambitiously enrolled. I'd better look for some critical background on Tolstoy as well.


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