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Topic: The Mill on the Floss: Discussion 3 of 3

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Subject: The Mill on the Floss: Discussion 3 of 3
Date Posted: 5/22/2009 9:32 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Share your thoughts about the book overall.

What was your favorite part?

After reading TMOTF, are you inspired to read more of George Eliot's work?

Is this a "timeless classic"?

Date Posted: 5/27/2009 8:09 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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An interesting bit of information I found, and I wondered what everyone thinks:

In 1852, Eliot met and became close to George Henry Lewes, a writer and an editor of The Leader. Lewes was living apart from his wife, and Eliot's decision to accompany Lewes to Germany, living as a couple, provoked a degree of scandal in London. In particular, Eliot sacrificed her relationship with her brother Isaac, and she depicted the pain of his disapproval in The Mill on the Floss in Tom's disapproval of Maggie's relationships with Philip and Stephen.

So, from that fact that some of the events and emotions in Mill are based off Eliot's own life, how does that shape your opinion of Maggie's behavior towards Tom?  For me, it helps to an extent.  I can better understand Tom & Maggie's relationship if I veiw it as drawn from a major even in the author's life.  But on the other hand, Eliot did break from her brother, she went on to live her own life in spite of his disapproval, whereas Maggie is never that strong or self-possessed.  It makes me wonder if Eliot regretted her choice and would rather have kept her brother's approval than made her own choices.  Or maybe Mill was just catharsis for her, a way to fictionalize (I want to say romanticize but I don't feel like that's the right word, since Eliot does show Maggie & Tom's flaws) the sibling bond that she missed.

Subject: Curmudgeon Review. Abandon all Hope Here
Date Posted: 5/27/2009 8:13 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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I found the intensity of  Maggie's love for her brother Tom to be creepy.  It was a turn off from the beginning, but I kept reading thinking that that's how siblings behaved in the late 1800s. Still....it gnawed at me. The word eww kept seeping into my thoughts.

I started to lose my will to keep reading when the humor--my favorite part of this book--ceased by book 5 or 6.

The romance with Philip and the othe guy (see I can't remember his name) are so contrived it hurt my eyes to read about it.

The ending is beyond unsatisfactory, it's cruel.  When you make your readers slog through 600 pages about two ridiculous siblings and then drown them in the end, it's cruel. I see the symbolism in it, but it's cruel.  They should have both been drowned by page 300 so would could have gone on with life. Maybe we could have hung out at Bob Jakin's place more or see if Aunt Glegg was harrassing anyone of interest.

I read Eliot's bio, which is more interesting than Mill. I have no idea what possessed Eliot to write her protagonist as a whimpy heroine who'd sacrifice herself for her stubborn and abusive brother. She did not convinsingly explain this at all.

This novel does not meet timeless classic status for me.


Last Edited on: 5/27/09 8:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/27/2009 8:29 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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Well, for me, it meets the test of time because I enjoyed almost all of it!  In fact, more than many classics that I read, I got more and more involved wanting to know the end of it.  Of course, as I mentioned before, the subtitle or comment on the title page "in their death they were not divided" gave away the ending at the beginning (despite my attempt to try to make it mean something else).

Yes, I don't like the ending, I don't like or understand the relationship between Maggie or Tom--in fact, I don't really think that he cared much for Maggie at all.  However, I can like a book without liking what the characters do or how it ends.

Beliveable?  It reminds me of those soap operas (I watched for a while a few years ago) when no one I know would have given up love for all the reasons that the characters on the soaps do.  In fact, everyone that I know marries the one that they love!  But, I can accept (whether it was true or not) that perhaps family meant more to people during that time.  I had to love Lucy and her visit to Maggie after the disaster with Stephen.

So, yes, I might, at some time, read more Eliot.  I actually want to go back and read Silas Marner again.