The Mill on the Floss - The Original Classic Edition
by Eliot George
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Powerful and moving, The Mill on the Floss is considered to be George Eliots most autobiographical novel. Along with Middlemarch it is my favorite. Set in early 19th century England - St. Oggs, Lincolnshire to be exact - this is the tale of gifted, free-spirited Maggie Tulliver and her selfish, spoiled brother, Tom, who were born and raised at Dorlcote Mill on the River Floss. Eliots portrayal of sibling relationships is terribly poignant and plays a major part in the novel, as does the longstanding rivalry between two local families - the Tullivers and the Wakems.
From earliest childhood Maggie worships her brother Tom, and longs to win his approval, and that of her parents. However, her fierce intelligence and strong streak of independence bring her into constant conflict with her family. She finds, in literature, the kindness and love she longs for in life. ...everybody in the world seemed so hard and unkind to Maggie: there was no indulgence, no fondness, such as she imagined when she fashioned the world afresh in her own thoughts. In books there were people who were always agreeable or tender, and delighted to do things that made one happy, and who did not show their kindness by finding fault. The world outside the books was not a happy one Maggie felt. If life had no love in it, what else was there for Maggie? Her nature, complex, passionate, sensuous, noble, intellectualized, and spiritualized, is of great importance to this novel, as is the pathos of her relationship with Tom.
As she reaches adulthood, Maggie finds herself torn between her relationships with three extremely different men: her proud, stubborn brother, Tom; Philip Wakem, a beloved friend who is also the son of her familys worst enemy; and a charismatic but unacceptable suitor. When Tom is thrown suddenly into the role of adult, after his fathers death, he becomes obsessed with acquiring social status and power. He attempts to arrange a socially advantageous marriage for Maggie, and when she refuses, he severs ties with her.
I wont spoil your read with any further discussion of the novels details, especially the dramatic conclusion. George Eliot writes with a keen sense of humor, especially when addressing the grotesque in the human character. Her narrative has great depth, as insight to character and social observations are more important to Eliot than pace and action. The Mill On The Floss is deeply romantic - a work of great beauty and a literary classic. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The Mill On The Floss is based partially on Eliots, (born Mary Ann Evans), own experiences with her family and her brother Isaac, who was three years older than she. Eliots father, like Mr. Tulliver, was a businessman who had married a woman from a higher social class. His wifes sisters were rich, ultra-respectable, and self-satisfied. These maternal aunts provided the character models for the aunts in the novel. Like Maggie, Eliot was extremely intelligent, energetic, imaginative and unconventional. She did not fit traditional models of feminine beauty or behavior, causing her family a great deal of consternation. Eliot lived with a man who she had not married - a daring enterprise in Victorian England. By the time this novel was published, she had gained considerable notoriety as an immoral woman.
- Emereo Publishing, October 2012
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