I’ve started rationing “Middlemarch” because I enjoy it so much more when I read slowly. Some books are meant for speed–all stripped down action and best read quick. It’s fun to stay up late at night and read a novel all at once.
Other novels are meant for contemplation. You want to live in them as long as possible. “Middlemarch” is this kind of book. There is so much to contemplate:
Mary and Rosamund standing side by side at the mirror.
Young Lydgate, bright but easily bored, deciding to become a doctor when he takes an old anatomy off the shelf.
Peter Featherstone, like Volpone in bed, mocking his greedy relatives–and each of those relations! Greedy, anxious, ridiculous, proud, needy, self-important. You can see them all if you take the time to look.
This novel is like a cathedral with its grand architecture and flying buttresses, its great shafts of light, its breathtaking windows, illuminating so many souls, and yes, its gargoyles, its Featherstones. Even the name is gargoyle-like, connoting rock carved with wings. The cosmic joke in imagining flight and weight together, or daring pigs to fly or drawing blood from stone.