It is exactly this practice which made the novel Middlemarch so distinctive and profound a 'study of provincial life' (as the subtitle puts it). The absence from the television adaptation of the wise, reflective and imaginative narrator does indeed reduce the novel to a superior soap opera.
The estimated audience of 6 million for the televised novel compares interestingly with the original circulation figures for the serialised novel, about 5,000. Middlemarch was issued in eight instalments, over a whole year. George Eliot said she was convinced that this slow plan of publication was 'of immense advantage in deepening the impression'.
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