George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss was one of my favourite books when I was a child. I hadn’t read it since I was about twelve, so I decided to take it on holiday with me and see whether I still liked it as much as I used to.
I did. It’s a great book; I’m not often a huge fan of classical literature, but this one’s worth looking past the flowery language. It follows the story of siblings Maggie and Tom as they’re growing up and moving away from home; Tom doing his family proud by living up to all the roles they’ve decided he should play, whilst Maggie is a constant disappointment because she’s not enough of a lady. She has an excellent heart but often acts impulsively and gets herself in trouble. The story is long and complex, tapping into the very base of human emotion and bringing out the best and worst parts, weaving them together in an unusually realistic manner.
I did wonder how many of my own views about life and relationships were shaped by this novel; Maggie’s ideas about how to live her life are very Kierkegaardian in some respects; the sacrifice of self for the sake of something beyond one’s own personal gain. Not necessarily for the greater society, as is often the case, but for something greater even than that.
Not sure if that made sense at all. Anyway, it’s worth reading. Especially if you follow it up with Fear and Trembling by Kierkegaard.