George Eliot has been on my mind today. I’ve been reading that Edith Wharton admired her and was influenced by her writing. I also went to Highgate Cemetery twice last year – once with my parents and once with my brother and his girlfriend – and saw Eliot’s grave there. A slightly ghoulish day out you must think, but strangely fascinating – I’d really recommend it if you are in London.
Eliot, Karl Marx and Douglas Adams are all buried on the East side, but I’d particularly recommend the West Side (of course, there is no reason you can’t do both). This is the more architecturally interesting area with the Egyptian Avenue and the Rossetti family graves. It was incredibly atmospheric, particularly the first time I went – it was winter and started snowing whilst we walked around. Our guide pointed out the symbolism in many of the sculptures, graves and carvings. It opened my eyes to hidden meanings in familiar objects and images that I’d taken for granted. For example, did you realise the broken pillar often used on graves symbolises a life broken off or cut short? Obvious really, but I was really interested in this as I just hadn’t really thought about it before!
Since seeing Eliot’s grave and learning a little more about her work through my investigation into Wharton, I’ve been considering reading Middlemarch. Or rather, rereading Middlemarch – I have tried it before about ten years ago and just didn’t get on with it at all. I also tried to read The Mill on the Floss once as well, but also put that down when it all started getting a bit bleak! Have you read Middlemarch? Would you recommend it? I’ve got mixed feelings, but it has now moved from the shelf in the study to my bedside table so that is a sign!