Of course there are plenty of scholars and readers who think we should leave the classics be. That it's unforgivable chutzpah to interfere the way I do. I'm unapologetic. George Eliot's genius is undiminished.
A lot of people swear by Goodreads. I swear at it. Often. It's a font of unsourced quotations, some of them fake, just like Wikiquotes. Take the line that tops the list of George Eliot quotes: "It is never too late to be what you might have been."
Back in college, I started Middlemarch but put down that sprawling book after just a couple dozen pages. I guess I was too young and inexperienced to really appreciate a fictional work of that magnitude.
Imagine you are a man living amid the Paleolithic millennia. If you were seeking great rewards from beyond the mortal realm, would you mutilate yourself, or submit to an order of mutilation, to become as much a woman as would be possible to you?
Over the thirty years of my publishing career, I've learned that book snobs come in all shapes and sizes. And their snobbery often seems more about them than the genre they've picked for their disdain.
I realize that continuing to slog through a novel that says "stop reading me" after 100 pages may pay dividends when I reach the end of the book. Dense can turn into sophisticated, confusing into illuminating.
At Printer's Row Book Festival in Chicago last weekend, a big topic of conversation was a remark by a prominent male writer that no woman writer was his equal. He used the term "feminine tosh."Tosh" swiftly became the buzz word of the weekend.