CLASSIC READ: Middlemarch Book II Chapter 22 (XXII)

Published 1871, George Eliot's most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community.

CLASSIC READ: Middlemarch Book II Chapter 22 (XXII)

DLT
Clan Fraser
DLT
Clan Fraser
Joined: May 26th, 2012, 7:06 am

May 16th, 2018, 2:37 am #1

Middlemarch

Book II: Old and Young
Chapter 22 (XXII)
 
 
The opening quotation is from Alfred de Musset, “Loves of Great Men”
 
Dinner the next day is a lively event, with Mr. Ladislaw proving to be an animated conversationalist, interspersing comments about himself between his observations of life in Rome, and he asks Dorothea’s opinion on various matters which makes Mr. Casaubon proud of his well-spoken wife (and implicitly proud of himself for having secured her). When Mr. Casaubon says his studies are completed and they can now leave Rome, Mr. Ladislaw urges Mr. Casaubon to take his wife to visit a studio, and he offers to conduct them himself.
 
The next day Mr. Ladislaw takes them to visit Adolf Naumann, telling them that he studied under the German artist for a while. Mr. Ladislaw has a sly dig at Mr. Casaubon’s expense while describing the painting he is working on. Naumann himself then explains the meaning behind some of the paintings, and Dorothea gains a new appreciation for the art, while Mr. Casaubon is bored as it is not a branch of knowledge that has ever interested him.
 
When Naumann says that Mr. Ladislaw is not serious about painting, Mr. Casaubon is secretly pleased, and he is even more pleased when Naumann asks if he can paint Mr. Casaubon’s head to use as a model for the head of St. Thomas Aquinas in his painting. Dorothea is equally pleased at this elevation of her husband, and she sits watching the artist paint and listening to the conversation, feeling happier than she has in a long time.
 
When Naumann asks if they can return the next day, Dorothea insists that they remain longer, and Naumann suggests making a sketch of Dorothea, as a study. As Naumann adjusts her pose, Mr. Ladislaw is conscious of wanting to fall at her feet, and he wishes that Naumann would stop touching her. Instead, he occupies Mr. Casaubon, who is becoming bored, until Naumann asks Mr. Casaubon to pose again.
 
After returning the next day for another sitting, Mr. Casaubon is so pleased with the painting of St. Thomas Aquinas that he agrees to purchase it. Naumann is not satisfied with the sketch of Dorothea, so he is not willing sell it.
 
Later Naumann and Mr. Ladislaw discuss the Casaubons with Mr. Ladislaw alternating between pleasure that Naumann appreciates Dorothea’s loveliness and annoyance at his presumption to do so. Mr. Ladislaw feels besotted with Dorothea, wanting her to notice him, jealous of the adoration she feels for Mr. Casaubon, yet conscious that this is part of her appeal to him.
 
Mr. Ladislaw calls at midday, hoping that Dorothea will be alone, and she eagerly admits him and asks for his help choosing a cameo for her sister. When Dorothea admits that she cannot admire art as so many people don’t have the opportunity to enjoy it, Mr. Ladislaw admonishes her, saying, “I suspect you have some false belief in the virtues of misery and want to make your life a martyrdom.” Dorothea disagrees and says she would be willing to enjoy the art in Rome if she could understand it. Mr. Ladislaw then says he can’t bear that she should be shut up in Lowick, but Dorothea ascribes this feeling to his dislike of the place and says that it is her chosen home.
 
Dorothea then quizzes him on the need for Mr. Casaubon to know German in order to advance in his work. Mr. Ladislaw implies that Mr. Casaubon’s work has work has long been superseded by others, at which Dorothea takes umbrage and Mr. Ladislaw recedes and admits that he himself will not pursue such great works as he fears failure.
 
Mr. Ladislaw says he will leave and that he has made Dorothea angry and fears she dislikes him, but she says she likes him very much and is interested to see what he will do with himself. She asks him to never speak ill of Mr. Casaubon’s writing again, which Mr. Ladislaw agrees to.
 
Mr. Ladislaw meets Mr. Casaubon on his way out, and Mr. Casaubon tells him not to bother coming again to take his leave, as they will be busy arranging their departure. Later Dorothea tells Mr. Casaubon that Mr. Ladislaw is determined to return to England and see his own way in the world, so as not to be dependent on Mr. Casaubon, and Mr. Casaubon says he will wait to hear news of that.
 
Thoughts:
 
Mr. Casaubon calls Dorothea “my love” when he is cold – I wonder what he calls her when he is tepid?
 
It seems that Mr. Ladislaw now has a burning passion for Dorothea. I wonder what Mr. Casaubon will make of that.
 
It is such a pity Dorothea could not have a purpose or vocation in life.
 
I wonder if we’ll see the painting of Dorothea again?
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

May 16th, 2018, 1:15 pm #2

DLT - Thanks for the summary and pertinent comments.  

Good question of what he'd call Dorothea when he is tepid rather than cold.  I suspect the "my love" is supposed to soften his annoyance, but it didn't feel that way when I listened.  I suspect that Ladislaw will try to hide his feelings for Dorothea from Casaubon and Casaubon might just be too self-absorbed to figure it out.  Though, he has already seemed a bit jealous, so maybe he'll assume it?  I'm not sure.

I suspect we will see the painting of Dorothea again at some point - perhaps Ladislaw will buy it to have something of her since she's married to another?  And, yes, Dorothea clearly needs something in her life to focus on.  She thought that was going to be helping her husband with his research and writing, but since he clearly won't allow that, she needs to find something else.  Perhaps at home she'll be able to figure something out.

I wonder if Naumann really intended to use Casaubon as a model for Thomas Aquinas before Casaubon said he'd buy the painting, which presumably needs to have some resemblance to him now.  Or whether he used the excuse of a sketch of him to create time for him to sketch Dorothea, which is what he really wanted.

I hadn't realized that this chapter ended Book Two until I put my bookmark at the beginning of the next chapter.  This did feel like a good "end" to something though, since it wraps up the trip to Rome and presumably when we next see Dorothea and Casaubon they will be back home.
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Lisa SF
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Joined: August 2nd, 2011, 11:43 pm

May 16th, 2018, 2:29 pm #3

Great summary, DLT! And once again, kudos for taking on both Middlemarch & Lord John this week!

My impression was that Dorothea was the main target of the modeling session, and that the Thomas Aquinas sketch was a ruse to get Casaubon to agree to spend time at the studio. Skillful flattery and manipulation, which worked! It please Casaubon's ego to be seen as a model for this purpose, and he was led to believe that the sketch of Dorothea was just to pass the time. Very clever. (Also, how they had her pose in the position they'd seen her in at the museum, with her hand on her cheek.)

Ladislaw seems to have fallen quickly for Dorothea. I wonder if it occurs to her to contrast his appreciation of her with her husband's lack. I hope she'll find fulfillment of some sort when they get home. She was so involved prior to marriage with the cottages project, but has seen that Casaubon lacks the need at Lowick for something like this. She'll need to find something to engage her passions. 

It's unfortunate that Will didn't cross paths with the couple sooner. He could have made a great guide for Dorothea and helped her understand and absorb all the sights of Rome -- although Casaubon might have objected.
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NigheanDubh
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NigheanDubh
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Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

May 17th, 2018, 12:29 am #4

Thank you for the wonderful summary and questions, DLT.  Nicely done.  

Good question about what Mr. Casaubon sounds like when he is in a tepid regard for his wife. 

It was rather clever of Naumann to suggest that Mr. Casaubon pose as St. Thomas Aquinas.  I wonder if it was a mockery of sorts.  Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica is five volumes.  I looked up its length; although I knew it was lengthy, I didn't know quite how extensive.  A reader would spend about 61 hours reading it.  At the rate that Mr. C is spending on his research and studies, perhaps the reference to St. Thomas Aquinas is not meant kindly.  Mr. C is so vain, and would like to think of himself as a Thomas Aquinas in theological knowledge, that he would never make the connection.  With all the research he's done, one would think he has read the ancients and can recognize false flattery when he is presented with it. 

The Nauman and Ladislaw, on the other hand, are putting Dorothea, because of her beauty, on a pedestal.  There is mention of Will wanted to kiss the hem of her dress.  One would have easier access if she were on a pedestal.  Will seems to see a bit beyond her beauty and is surprised.  Initially, she is just an object of sorts.  They admire her but value her for a different reason.  

I wonder if the two had met in Lowick, would Dorothea had given any notice to Will?  Given Dorothea's thoughts I doubt she would have seen Will as interesting.  She would have placed him in the same basket as Sir James.  Her ideal man would have been the intellectual sort...er...Mr. Casaubon.  Now in Rome, left alone, she can compare the two and Mr. Casaubon might not approve the comparison.  He is the one who is out of their age group.  

One last thing.  I have to wonder why he is done with his research all of a sudden.  Weren't they going to spend a longer time in Rome, and miss Christmas at Lowick?  Or did I miss a time lapse.  And now Will wants to return to England?  And support himself?  What brought that one?  
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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Suec
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Suec
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Joined: September 25th, 2012, 9:08 am

May 17th, 2018, 8:14 pm #5

i wonder if Will thinks that Dorothea may look more kindly towards him if he endeavours not to lean financially on his cousin so much? But in reality, what difference will it make? Dorothea is a married woman now so whatever he does the situation isn't going to change.
Perhaps the change of heart as to their leaving Rome earlier than planned is because Casaubon does not like the close proximity of his cousin.
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Joined: October 21st, 2014, 12:07 pm

May 18th, 2018, 5:41 pm #6

I'm not sure if I have anything original to add to all of your nice comments.

When I read the part where Will takes them to the studio I thought that the entire trip was a ruse in order to get Dorothea to pose for the German friend. Of course there was no way that Dorothea could have been the object of the sitting so they had to flatter her husband by putting him in the chair first. Note that he's interested in buying his own picture but he doesn't even ask about getting the one about Dorothea later on when it's ready. What an egocentric bastard! I don't think we'll see it again though. I thought it was just an excuse to show us an outsider's perspective of Dorothea.

I do think that Will fell in love very quickly but maybe people did that then. He isn't Dorothea's type in any way so I can't see her falling for him had she met him first. She may be blind to his feelings but I don't think Casaubon is. Obtuse as he is towards his wife, he seems to be a very jealous type. I would like to think that they are going home quickly because Casaubon realized that Dorothea isn't happy in Rome but then again it could be simple jealousy of Will.
Da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.

Donne-moi mille baisers, et puis cent, et puis mille autres, puis une seconde fois cent, puis encore mille autres, puis cent.
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Pauline
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Joined: October 1st, 2009, 11:19 pm

Yesterday, 7:26 pm #7

The whole situation struck me as a ruse and cooked up between Naumann and Ladislaw to get that sketch of Dorothea.  If they paint the picture that they saw in the gallery, I'm wondering what she and Casaubon will think of it.  

The conversation between Will and Dorothea about Casaubon's research was interesting.  He intimated that what Casaubon is researching has already been completed by other, greater minds.  I wonder if Casaubon found this out and that is why he was cutting the trip short. Perhaps that is why he was so short with Dorothea earlier when she offered to help him put the book together - a book that he now knew was worthless.
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DLT
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DLT
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Joined: May 26th, 2012, 7:06 am

Yesterday, 9:14 pm #8

Naomi wrote: When I read the part where Will takes them to the studio I thought that the entire trip was a ruse in order to get Dorothea to pose for the German friend. Of course there was no way that Dorothea could have been the object of the sitting so they had to flatter her husband by putting him in the chair first. Note that he's interested in buying his own picture but he doesn't even ask about getting the one about Dorothea later on when it's ready. What an egocentric bastard! I don't think we'll see it again though. I thought it was just an excuse to show us an outsider's perspective of Dorothea.
I had not even thought of this, and how they have her pose just as they saw her in the sunlight. I wonder how much effort Naumann had to put into the painting of Causaubon's head in order to flatter him and get him to allow his wife to be "sketched". When I first read the chapter, I wondered at the use of words, how the artist painted Casaubon and sketched Dorothea. Does that mean the sketch is of lesser quality, or that it is unfinished, or just done in a different medium?
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Joined: October 21st, 2014, 12:07 pm

Today, 4:01 pm #9

I hadn't noticed the different wording but I think that a sketch would normally be done only with a pencil or charcoal so it would be considered like a rough draft or a study to be used for a more complex painting later on. A painting would mean that he applied his paints directly so there would be color and it would look more finished.
Da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.

Donne-moi mille baisers, et puis cent, et puis mille autres, puis une seconde fois cent, puis encore mille autres, puis cent.
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

Today, 4:14 pm #10

I just peeked back at the scene and I saw at least two references to a sketch referring to the image of Casaubon.  I think he was making a preliminary sketch to later use as a reference for St Thomas Aquinas in the painting he was already working on.  He also sketched Dorothea, but never specifically said he'd make a painting later using the sketch for reference.  He refers to the sketch of her as a "single study" (page 210 of my Modern Library edition - the references to a sketch of Casaubon are on pp 209-210). That doesn't mean that he won't make a painting of Dorothea based on this sketch, but he isn't telling them that he intends to.
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