“Eliot was scornful of idle women readers who imagined themselves the heroines of French novels, and of self-regarding folk who saw themselves in the most admirable character in a novel, and she hoped for a more nuanced engagement from her own readers. Even so, all readers make books over in their own image, and according to their own experience. My Middlemarch is not the same as anyone else’s Middlemarch; it is not even the same as my Middlemarch of twenty-five years ago. Sometimes, we find that a book we love has moved another person in the same way as it has moved ourselves, and one definition of compatibility might be when two people have highlighted the same passages in their editions of a favorite novel. But we each have our own internal version of the book, with lines remembered and resonances felt. — Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch
I took a bit of a break from my Lenten reading to read My Life in Middlemarch last week and it was a very good decision. Even if you’ve never read Middlemarch, you’ll certainly have another favorite novel, one you’ve likely read many times, and you’ll understand the points Mead makes about attachment to a work of literature helping to shape our lives.
Also, one of the more interesting reads from the interwebs this week, In Defense of Fanny Price: Why You Don’t Like Mansfield Park as Much as You Should. This piqued my interest because of all the Austen novels, Mansfield Park is hands down my favorite, and very much so because of Fanny Price. Haley lays out a sound argument in favor of the introverted heroine, the heroine that is quiet in her strength. Out of an abundance of curiosity, what is your favorite Austen novel? Why? What are you reading?