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Publisher's Summary

Middlemarch is considered one of the masterpieces of English fiction. Published in 1874, it is the seventh and penultimate novel by George Eliot. It pursues a number of underlying themes, including the status of women, the nature of marriage, idealism and self-interest, religion and hypocrisy, political reform, and education.

Set in the fictitious Midlands town of Middlemarch during the period 1830 - 32 and subtitled "A Study of Provincial Life", the novel creates a concept of life and society confronting the scepticism that was taking over the age.

English novelist George Eliot (1819-1880), real name Mary Ann (Marian) Evans was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. Her novels, largely set in provincial England, are well known for their realism and psychological perspicacity.

Please note: This is a vintage recording. The audio quality may not be up to modern day standards.

©2009 RNIB (P)2009 RNIB

Critic Reviews

"You will learn more about life, your own and other people's, from Middlemarch, Madame Bovary or Moby-Dick than you are likely to from yards and yards of memoir."( The Times)

What listeners say about Middlemarch

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Miss Belgravia
  • 11-02-2010

I Loved It!

I agree that the production values are a little unprofessional, but I love Gabriel Woolf. He is a brilliant actor, and he brings the characters to life. Yes, once in awhile you hear a car horn honking, or occasionally the faint sound of an airplane flying overhead, neither of which belong in a book set in the 19th Century. And Woolf does occasionally stumble over a word here and there. But it just makes me smile when those things happen. It's rather like having someone read you a bedtime story, albeit someone incredibly talented and erudite.

And Middlemarch itself is brilliant. The characters are so fully drawn, the subtle nuances of their emotions and actions are so skillfully rendered -- little wonder this novel ranks at or near the top of every list of "bests."

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Ro
  • 22-01-2010

Worst Narration Of Absolute Classic

The 1-Star rating was kind. In fact, he is the worst narrator of the 125 audio books I own. I have read this classic at least 15 times, and it only gets better as the years go on. But I can't believe how it's destroyed by Mr Woolf's narration. Sounds as if he recorded this in a closet. Eliot has created the best characters in literary history, only to be flattened by bland emotion. Also, he seems to lose his place often. TERRIBLE. I am shocked Audible sells this.

Stay away from the Great Literary Classics. They are generally of inferior quality. Some are "fair" (2-Stars), but you are better paying full price for other classic narrations.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • egbm
  • 09-05-2010

Dreamy

I loved this narrator. I adored the book. The production values aren't the greatest, but I thought the reading was rich and nuanced. I would listen to Gabriel Woolf anytime.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Barbara Dumas
  • 13-05-2011

I felt like I was being read to

Middlemarch is among my top ten novels, and Gabriel Woolf is among my top ten narrators. It is like being read to by a man sitting next to you, a man who can subtly change his voice to as characters enter and leave the stage. Loved it!!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Lee
  • 03-04-2010

Yawn

I guess I was expecting the universality of Jane Austen, I was wrong.

2 people found this helpful

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  • James A. Hose
  • 25-04-2021

great book great voice

best narrator of this - one of my favorite books - that i have listened to narration is hard men or women voicing characters of the opposite sex will often go too high or too low their renditions are often cringeworthy with a long work like this it can become torture as the many hours go by this british actor, woolf, does it right his was the only one i could bear to listen to though years ago before i found him i had to put up with another narrator of middlemarch, who i admire as a female actor who has appeared in period pieces but not when she voices men on audiobooks there are men too who make the women sound stereotypical, or comically absurd: by seeming to try too hard they end up sounding ridiculous i will look for gabriel woolf again (great name) his different accents, too, regional or class distinctions were done subtly and tastefully as well superb

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  • Wendy H
  • 26-01-2018

Beautiful story beautifully read

In recent years I have watched the BBC movie filmed in the mid 1990s. I liked it very much and decided to read the book. Then I saw how many chapters made up this book. That was intimidating. However I decided to try this Audible version to listen in my car on the work commute. For me, it was interesting to listen to the narration and compare with the actors’ collective creation of this work as film. This reading was well done and kept my attention. There are so many astute observations in this book about human nature. I think George Elliot must have seen right through people around her. I would say like Dickens she created such interesting, three dimensional characters. Men and women in their flaws and finer moments live here.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen
  • 08-05-2010

Shower of stars

I am a huge fan of Gabriel Woolf...and Middlemarch is a work of genius...what a mind she had! This is an Audible gem.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for KOPONEN ALEKSI I
  • KOPONEN ALEKSI I
  • 17-02-2011

Just don't.

I would advise everyone to stay at large from this rendering of George Eliot's classic; Eliot's fantastic novel has been completely butchered by this reader.

There are stumblings and mistakes on every page and, on the whole, listening to this is like listening to a sublime piece of music which is just too difficult or alien for the musician. Every character is delivered in the same tedious monotone. The reader loses all the subtlety of Eliot's finely crafted sentences, mispronounces words and pauses in awkward, unnatural places so that the rhythm and even meaning is often lost.

The result of all of the above is something utterly frustrating. Go with the other unabridged version.

10 people found this helpful

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  • G
  • 13-08-2014

pick a different narrator

This is the first time I've given up on a book. Honestly, this recording should be removed from the listings. The sound is metalic for one, but more importantly, the narrator seems to feel the need to reproduce what he probably imagines to be a speech pattern that reflects the tone of the Middlemarch world. It's monotone, sad, bored, lethargic, and unnecessarily upper-class. Surprisingly, the narrator is excellent when it comes to the characters' voices, which are a relief to his slow and tedious humdrum.
Another feature of the recording is the way the narrator stumbles through words, often re-reading parts of sentences from which words are initially omitted. There is also the occasional clearing of the throat. It does make for a genuine "live" performance, but it's not what one expects from a serious recording.
Finally, the story itself is long and full of unnecessary detail, but generally I like that sort of thing in 19th century literature, and the characters are interesting, even if there's not much drama.
Incidentally, I managed about 20 hours, out of the 32, but enough is enough. I'll probably listen to a different version of the book.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennifer
  • 15-05-2010

Middlemarsh

Hard to recomment this book too higly. One of the great novels of all times. Try it if have not read it.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Margaret
  • 10-09-2010

not perfect but remarkable value

'Middlemarch' is one of the great classics, but undeniably fairly long, with its 86 chapters. Listening to it rather than reading the book prevents you hurrying through it too quickly 'to find out what happens' and enables you to appreciate to the full the mastery of George Eliot's writing, her shrewd observations and her humour (even if there are some passages of social commentary which have now become a little obscure). The reading by Gabriel Woolf is clear and well paced, but there are some stumbles and mistakes - perhaps this has to do with the origin of the recording which was made for the RNIB rather than for a commercial company. If you are prepared to bear with the fact that it seems not to have been edited in any way, the recording represents amazing value - 8hrs plus of a great classic for under ?5.

3 people found this helpful

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    out of 5 stars
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  • Beverley
  • 29-01-2009

Short Review

A good, clear, no-frills reading.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Mr AG Knight
  • 16-05-2021

Dreadful

Couldn't listen to it. Deleted it after one chapter and bought the Juliet Stevenson version which is delightful.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • DRJ London
  • 03-01-2021

Captivating

A lot going on, many characters and issues to keep track of. a very captivating story.
Enjoyed it .

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  • Libby Hall
  • 07-12-2020

For me this is the best of all narrators,

This recording, done for RNIB, has some technical problems but for me those were unimportant compared to the quality of the narration. Middlemarch is my favourite novel. A book I know well, and I have not been happy with any of the other narrators available on Audible. With this there are some extraneous sounds, the narrator sometimes makes a slight mistake and corrects himself, or clears his throat, there are pauses in a sentence where there should not be - but the overall effect is of being read to by a friend. The words comes first, There are no self-conscious theatricals. Gabriel Woolf CARES about what he is reading.

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