The Metro website (and others) recently reported that a panel of 82 international critics declared George Eliot’s Middlemarch the greatest British novel of all time. Now… one could say that “all time” hasn’t happened yet so they’re being a bit optimistic, but it’s still good to hear about Middlemarch receiving such positive attention. I don’t know if it could fairly be called the best British novel ever, but we here at the Appreciation are certainly very fond of it – or maybe just more fond of a certain character.
According to the Metro site, BBC culture contributor Jane Ciabattari asked 82 critics to submit their top ten choices for best British novel with each number one pick receiving ten points, and the rest of their choices ranked accordingly. You can see all of their selections at the link (and they’re quite a mixed bag), but Middlemarch beat out other contenders like Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, with 42% of the critics ranking it in their top ten. And perhaps best of all, they used a picture from the BBC’s 1995 production (above), starring Patrick Malahide as the Rev. Edward Casaubon, as illustration. More proof (as if we needed any) that it’s still the best version. There’s been ongoing talk of a remake to be adapted by Andrew Davies (who also adapted the 1995 version) and directed by Sam Mendes, which was to be released 2015-ish, but apparently that production isn’t going forward any time soon. Oh well. We know who the best Casaubon is, and can’t imagine anyone else in the role. 😉