I'm reading several books right now, a bad habit into which my constant writing has pushed me. I HAVE to read to keep sharp, and one of my current reads is Middlemarch, by George Eliot.
First off, George Eliot is a pen name for Mary Ann Evans, English journalist and philosopher who turned fiction-writer to publish such classics as The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Daniel Deronda, and this hefty novel I'm reading now, lauded as her masterpiece. First published in 1871, Middlemarch, like other great English novels, is a critical, satiric, sometimes tragic examination of human behavior. I'm reading the Penguin Classics edition, and so far, on page 168, I'm really enjoying it. Not light, breezy reading, but written with sharp wit and clever turns of phrase, I could just as easily be reading about modern characters, to listen to their interactions.
I'm one of those obnoxious people who think it's important for all authors, regardless of genre, to read classic works, and I try to pepper my reading list with them whenever I can. The thing about the classics is that they're timeless. They aren't bogged down in problems of the moment, but look at broad, universal human topics.
I also love the way The Greats allowed their characters to grow and mature. I think character development is a lost art in today's money-money-gimme-now world of book publishing. Characters are expected to be perfect from the outset. This is boring, but for some reason is promoted, and, I think, even asked for by some readers. I'm old school, and I enjoy watching characters struggle with big issues; I like to watch them come out more learned and whole on the other side of the story.
I've been absorbed by the novel and look forward to slowly making my way through it in the next couple of weeks.
Pride helps us; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our own hurts - not to hurt others.
Our passions do not live apart in locked chambers.
A prig is a fellow who is always making you a present of his opinions.
~George Eliot, Middlemarch