Let me tell you about Middlemarch Club


Welcome to the latest incarnation of my plan to never sleep more than five hours a night – it’s Middlemarch Club! Some of you will have come here because you already know of and are interested in Middlemarch Club, but for those who don’t or those who would like to know exactly how minutely organised fun can be, I’ve written up the particulars below.

What is Middlemarch Club?

Middlemarch Club is a bunch of people all reading Middlemarch at the same time and ocassionally talking about it – that’s all. Middlemarch is very probably my favourite book ever, and I’ve been meaning to reread it for a while now: how much better to go through that rereading in the company of others, who can all bring their various perspectives to the pier glass? (That’s a Middlemarch reference right there. I’m enjoying myself already!) People who’ve expressed an interest include Victorianists, scientists, philosophy lecturers and videogame designers, so there should be plenty of interesting conversation.

How do I join Middlemarch Club?

That’s easy: get a copy of Middlemarch, and start reading it. I’ve also set up a Twitter account called @PaperhouseBooks, which I’ll be using for Middlemarch Club-related admin – you may wish to follow that, though I expect to run the discussions through my personal account, @SarahDitum.

Is that it?

Not quite. Once a fortnight, I’ll be kicking off loosely organised discussions about the book so far using the hashtag #middlemarchclub. If you’re not on Twitter because you consider it a den of wastrels and idiots (and frankly, who could blame you?) there will be an open post right here on this blog to collect your thoughts on the study of provincial life, and I’ll collate all the observations into a round-up blog post.

One request: please, please don’t share major plot points until the deadline for each section has passed. Spoilers suck, even for 140 year old books.

What’s the schedule?

Middlemarch is 750 pages long in the Everyman edition, handily divided into eight books of 100 pages or fewer each, and I’ve planned the reading as follows:

11-24 May Prelude and Book I: Miss Brooke

25 May-7 June Book II: Old and Young

8-21 June Book III: Waiting for Death

22 June-5 July Book IV: Three Love Problems

6-19 July Book V: The Dead Hand

20 July-2 August Book VI: The Widow and the Wife

3-16 August Book VII: Two Temptations

17-30 August Book VIII: Sunset and Sunrise

Bloody hell, I’ll die reading Middlemarch at that rate.

I aimed for something that would suit as many people as possible, and also let us read Middlemarch episodically. I firmly believe that the Victorian triple decker is meant to be read as part of life, rather than joylessly inhaled. It also means that if you fall behind (by, saying, having things to do that aren’t reading Victorian novels) you should have a chance to catch up in the next block.

Do I need a particular edition of the novel?

I like the Everyman edition, but to be honest, any unabridged version will be absolutely fine. If you have an ereader, you can download Middlemarch from Project Gutenberg.

God, you sound like a nerd.

Thanks! Hope you can join in!