Middlemarch: ‘Unabridged’

middlemarch-tl crop

[cropped] Eliot’s Manuscript of Middlemarch © Jonathan Garnault Ouvry / British Library

Guest Post from Unit Member Kathy Rees: on reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch again, abridgement, and the significance of paratext mottoes. 

 

I was very excited when the Research Unit Reading Group embarked on George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871), but also slightly stressed, because I knew that I didn’t have time to re-read it.  The obvious solution was audible.com, and I imagined myself happily absorbed in the dramas and doings at Tipton Grange and Freshitt Hall while I trailed around Tesco or stirred the soup.

At the point of purchase I was puzzled to note that the length of the ‘Audible Studios’ edition, narrated by Maureen O’Brien (£21), was 32 hours and 28 minutes, while the ‘Naxos’ edition, narrated by Juliet Stevenson (£37), was 35 hours and 40 minutes.  Given that both versions were emphatically marked UNABRIDGED, it seemed outrageous to pay £16 for an additional 3 hours and 12 minutes of an amorphous ‘something’ – maybe pregnant pauses, or musical intervals – so, like dear Mr Brooke, I had good intentions but was ‘spending as little money as possible in carrying them out”.[i] The outcome of my penny-pinching provoked the subject of this blog.

Continue reading

Advertisements