The Lover of Middlemarch
Adamo the incompetent, a recluse and exceeding fool at university, was studying ,or his version of studying, which amounted to smacking his head several times against the leather bindings of the books he read, happened, by chance, to fall in love with that peerless novel Middlemarch, and its goddess-poet George Eliot. So hard did he hit his head with this book, this thousand page beauty (size did matter to Adamo), that any thought of another human lover was knocked right out of his skull and instead he swore an oath of fidelity and everlasting romance to the Penguin edition that had sent his best two teeth flying onto the library floor. Smiling, or trying to, he stood up on the one of the long wooden desks of Sterling Memorial Library and declared to the frightened, and coerced audience: “I have found her (Adamo went breathless here), you miserable nerds. Rejoice in my glory, and be happy that love truly lives!” A few American ‘awws’ could be heard from the back, while a recently heartbroken Egyptologist sobbed uncontrollably.
Eloping with the masterly-annotated version of his love, he sprinted towards the nearest private reading room to do the last thing that needed to be done for a happy marriage between man and novel. Closing the door softly, shutting the windows quickly, closing the curtains suspiciously, he laid out Middlemarch on the table and began, slowly, slowly, to bang the book against his head. He banged like this all night. Come heaven or massive brain damage, he vowed to keep going, to keep thrusting his head against the beautiful, but by now somewhat bloodied binding of his one-true amor. Ignoring the complaints of the concerned librarians, who after stacking a recently returned 50 Shades of Grey, first came to help the poor dying man, but spying a sight that intrigued their unconventional tastes, watched unblinkingly, Adamo continued to penetrate the leathery-shell of his lover with his charmingly resilient forehead. And at last the awaited moment came, came so quickly and so soon that both Middlemarch and Adamo were left a little disappointed. The leathery covering was broken, pierced! The true beauty and glory of his love was revealed in her glowing, luminous, white pages. “There’s nothing quite like a novel after the first time reading her” — Adamo contemplated silently, wishing he had a cigarette and thinking it worthy maybe of his autobiography.
Now, Adamo desperately wanted to fall asleep, reading being a stressful and strenuous activity even for the most gifted of readers like himself, but Middlemarch would have none of it. It was now, at the very peak of his happiness and fragility, that he wished the soft waves of indulgent sleep to caress him to a sandy shore, as he dreamed of the reading he had, in his own esteemed opinion, done quite spectacularly. But Middlemarch felt differently about the matter. She wanted him to keep reading. “She is insatiable”, thought Adamo as a drop of sweat mixed with the now congealed blood on his forehead, his mighty courage being put to the test. And then, just as he was beginning to lose faith in himself, he thought about the stories he would tell his friends, about the parades of honour that would be held in celebration of him, the bowing and high-fives, the stern masculine looks of respect, veneration and secret envy, as the conqueror of such a fine and exquisite novel, and how he had persevered right to the end, beyond the realms of reason or sanity, beyond what was demanded of ordinary, frail boys, but what was required of this untamed lion. Holding her gently, he laid her back on the table where they had started. “This time,” he whispered to her heavily-marginalized pages as he simultaneously recalled a line from his mistress Coleridge , “call me demon-lover.”
And with that, he began to read vigorously, like no mortal had ever read before. Words were tossed around, phrases used and abused; sentences commanded! O what delight did Adamo find, dear Muse, in that reading room, in those caverns measureless to illiterates, as he plunged into the wettest depths of understanding and moral didactics. Bliss, unending, bliss! A sun returned from darkness to stand eternally on the horizon. Stars burning brighter. Political prisoners released around the world. These were the miracles, the inversions of the natural order, said to have occurred that day by prophets and soothsayers, who in the future would throw bones at the birth of boys and, if aligned correctly, would bless the prosperous name of Adamo to predestined gods of the amorous arts.
Adam, jolted from his seat in the library, first noticed the unopened copy of Middlemarch, then rapidly checked the coffee next to him for signs of tampering, cautiously checked his pants, let out a thunderous laugh, and quickly went to see if he could find more.