Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 31 (2000) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/
Among certain readers of this review, those already equipped with personal computers capable of launching Cruise missiles at the twitch of a mouse, my opening paragraph will, if anything, pucker lips. But among the uninitiated it will probably furrow brows. For some, it will be more than enough to learn that the minimum system requirements for using this CD-ROM are a Pentium processor running at 100 MHz; a Graphics display card capable of 800 x 600 resolution in HiColor (16 bit); the installation of QuickTime 3 (which can be downloaded from the disc, if necessary); an 8 x speed CD-ROM drive; Windows 95/98/NT; 24MB of RAM; and a sound card - more than enough, I say, to stop them dead in their tracks and then move on to something less preoccupied with Bill Gates and more, the gods willing, with George Eliot.
If you belong to that second category of readers and you're prepared to give me one more chance to stop speaking in tongues, then your reward is to learn that this CD-ROM is worth the effort of mastering a tiny bit of computer know-how. In fact, forget the jargon: the only thing you really need is what most of us computer users have: the skill to (i) place a CD-ROM in the right (only?) tray of a functioning computer and (ii) operate a mouse. If that all sounds reasonable, then something even more impressive could take place: you too could have quick, easy access to a considerable and very well thought out body of George Eliot material - all, quite literally, at the end of an index fingertip.
George Eliot's Middlemarch is advertised as 'an interactive multimedia open learning package in the form of a CD-ROM', which means, the flyer goes on to say, that on the one disk you will find
• the full text of the novel
• a rich variety of pathways into and through the novel based on imaginatively linked exercises and critical discussions
• extensive biographical and contextual material, plus annotated bibliography and critical survey
• a wide range of multimedia options including photographic images, 'talking heads' and audio readings from the novel. (1)