Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 21 (1990)
Advanced undergraduate or graduate students, as well as general readers who are quite familiar with Middlemarch, should find Homback's book interesting reading. It is well documented with frequent references to the Norton Critical Edition of Middlemarch, which Hornback edited, and to other sources.
This volume follows the standard format of the Masterwork series, including a chronology, a discussion of the historical context, a review of the critical reception, a discussion of key themes and ideas, and a bibliography and an index.
Thematic discussions take place under such chapter titles as "Seeing," "Feeling and Knowledge," "Being Heroic and Constructive," and "Reform." In "Making Life Beautiful," for example, Homback includes an explanation of his concept of selflessness, which he then applies to various characters in Middlemarch. Although one might disagree with his analysis of the novel at some points, his discussions of characters and ideas are thoughtful and well-constructed. His vocabulary and use of allusions, however, put the book beyond the easy reach of many undergraduates or others with limited acquaintance with Eliot's works.