I want to end this extremely disorganized (and delayed) assessment of Middlemarch with the thing that hit me hardest - emotions. George Eliot is not necessarily the first writer I would describe as reaching out to readers on an emotional level - there is something distinctly intelligent in her writing that always makes it feel a bit too precise for the kind of passionate emotional connection many readers seem to have with other authors. She isn't exactly the type of writer who aims to tap readers' basest emotions. I always feel like she's above that.
Yet Middlemarch, more so than any of Eliot's other novels, touched me deeply. There were scenes that moved me nearly to tears, not because they were necessarily sad or manipulatively emotional, but because Eliot was describing some kind of feeling I myself had had hundreds of times beforehand. This may sound trivial, but think about it for a moment - how often does an author truly get it right? How often does a book describe exactly what you've felt in your own day-to-day life, with the right words, and the right inflections, and all the right passion? In my case, this has happened... next to never.
Something about Middlemarch moved me. At first I didn't like the characters... and then I didn't want their story to end. I wanted to breathe in their lives and continue to feel everything they felt forever. I felt every piece of this incredible novel moving through me, filling me up, as though until then I'd been empty and George Eliot had just given me a vital piece of my existence. Middlemarch actually blew me away. This is no ordinary book.
I've said this a few times already, but I cannot pretend that this is a remotely critical or logical reaction to Middlemarch. I don't know if I read it "properly", or took from it the "right" things. All I know is that this has to be one of the greatest books I've ever read. And to any other readers who are maybe skeptical... don't be. Middlemarch is truly something amazing, and two months later, I'm already itching to reread it. Maybe next time I'll be able to organize my thoughts into something coherent. Until then...