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Middlemarch: a Study in Provincial Life.
Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1871-72 - 4 volumes, octavo (173 × 109 mm). Contemporary quarter calf, spines gilt tooled overall with a wave-like floriate pattern, red morocco labels, marbled sides, red speckled edges, pale blue endpapers. Contemporary pencilled ownership inscription of "R. J. Butler" at head of volume I title page, without the half-title in volume I, spines a little rolled, label of volume IV chipped, fore-edges and a few gatherings foxed, "The Right of Translation" at foot of title pages to volumes I & II just shaved by the binder. An attractive set. First edition of George Eliot's masterpiece and one of the peaks of 19th-century literature. "This astonishingly fully realised 'study of provincial life' - the subtitle of the novel - brought the author admiring reviews and letters from friends and strangers enthusing about her understanding of human life, male and female, rich and poor, professional and domestic, married and unmarried, happy and unhappy. In Middlemarch, the social changes of the early 1830s are thoroughly absorbed into the multiple plot connections between individuals—what the narrator calls 'the stealthy convergence of human lots'. And George Eliot shows more than ever before her ability to enter imaginatively into the consciousness of every kind of human being, from the naïve, aspiring Dorothea Brooke to the petrified pedant Casaubon, from the ambitious Dr Lydgate to his ill-matched unresponsive wife, Rosamond, from the loud merchant and mayor Vincy to his brother-in-law, the evangelical banker Bulstrode. The portrayal of the two unhappy marriages, the Lydgates' and the Casaubons', drew praise from Freud; Henry James wrote of the 'painful fireside scenes between Lydgate and his miserable little wife' that there was 'nothing more powerfully real' and 'nothing certainly more intelligent' in all English fiction" (ODNB). Sadleir 815; Wolff 2059a. [Attributes: First Edition]
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
Last Found On: 2016-03-16           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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