on 30 October 2009
How does an ordinary reader begin to review George Eliot? But this is a small masterpiece and as it is short and easy to read, a good introduction to her more daunting works.
The tale of Silas Marner, the miser who loses his gold and gains a golden-haired child is heart-warming with none of the sentimentality that Dickens would have brought to the tale. Eliot can write about the rural working class and they live and breathe as real people; listen to the way the men talk in the village pub, the way kind Mrs Winthrop rambles around a subject. There is wry humour here and acute observation. Apparently, it was George Eliot's favourite of her own novels, though the way of life she describes had already been vanquished by the industrial revolution. Marner is a man bent and half-blinded by the machinery he works with; his bleak urban nonconformism has blighted his life. The neighbourly villagers are part of an old rhythm of English country village, not idealised but rooted in tradition and nature. (You can see Eliot's influence of Thomas Hardy.)
I had always thought of Eliot as a dry bluestocking but this short novel has urged me to try others. Highly recommended.
on 20 February 2010
Once again, George Eliot (AKA Mary Anne Evans) brings us a gripping tale of country folk at the turn of the 19th century. The historical detail is fascinating in itself, but this is a truly touching story of one man's redemption through the love of a good woman. Silas Marner finds new meaning in his life when he undertakes the upbringing of a little orphan girl. The denoument is nicely prepared as we the reader are aware of certain information which is unknown to the two main protagonists!
on 17 January 2011
I knew this book already and simply wanted to have my own copy. This book is easy to read and - if you are an old romantic like myself - it will transport you back to the England that was in a very touching story about an old miser who is forced to realize that he has a heart. I wouldn't add anything else, in order not to 'spoil' the story - just read it, it's a wonderful classic.
The only other thing I would add is that the service from Amazon was nothing short of excellent, as always!
ever produced. It is not overlong and wordy like say Daniel Deronda for example.
Silas Marner an honest man, a weaver and a trusted man of the church, is falsely accused of theft and finds he can no longer stay in the place where he is living because of the shame. He moves to a little village in the middle of nowhere and carries on with his weaving and after years of toil makes a small fortune. His only pleasure is to count his money and when it is stolen it is though his heart has been torn out again. Salvation comes him way though in an odd turn of events. He is outside one snowy night and when he comes back indoors he sees lying on the hearth what he thinks is his gold.........being short sighted he takes a closer look and sees it is a child and a toddler at that. The old misers heart softens and he takes the child on and brings her up. He does a good job too as Effie turns out beautiful, bright and loves Silas as though he was her real Father.
Her real Father is in actuality not far away but has never had the nerve to tell his Wife that he was married before and that he had a child.
This is a superb story of love, hate, revenge and retribution and also the changes wrought in people when they see an old bachelor who is more or a less a hermit, take on a child and would fight to the death to keep her.
An excellent read and had me gripped right to the end.
Whilst I love George Eliot's work as a rule, I had put off reading Silas Marner. The premise of the book (the social exile brought back to a full life and acceptance by his community through his adoption of an orphan child who appears on his doorstep) sounded a bit twee to me, a bit too sentimental for my liking.
I am happy to hold my hands up and admit that I was utterly wrong. Silas Marner is a little masterpiece. Compared to Middlemarch, it is a short and simple tale, yet it retains all the of elements which are most recognisable and admirable about Eliot's work - her simply breathtaking ability to write prose, fully developed and humanised characters, wonderfully vivid portraits of the simple rural life and community sadly now lost, and compelling exploration of morality and religion without the reader feeling they are being preached at. I enjoyed Middlemarch immensely as I could recognise it as a massive achievement literature, but it has not captured a place in my heart in the way that The Mill on the Floss and now Silas Marner have.
Some might feel that the plot is a bit thin and sentimental but for me this not the case. If you think more deeply about the book an enormous amount takes place not as just events driving the plot forward, but under the surface of the story. The characters undergo extensive development over the long years portrayed, yet Eliot handles this change and development so subtly and deftly that the reader hardly notices it happen. This has the effect of making the changes the characters undergo utterly believable - it is after all what happens to us all every day. Whilst the plot has a touch of the fairytale about it, I believe this was a stylistic choice on behalf of the author as a means of exploring the deeper themes of human character, community, religion and morality which she wanted to convey. The book never feels sentimental or unbelievable as one might expect from a pseudo-fairytale, which is testament to Eliot's great skill as an author.
What the story has made me do, and I am sure it will others too, is to really think about what it is that one values most in life, how we judge other people who do not on the surface appear like ourselves and how we should perhaps accept the hand that is dealt us in life rather than fighting against it as this may ultimately lead to greater happiness. Silas Marner is a book which will stay with me and which I will return to throughout the years not just because it was an enjoyable story which I could not put down whilst reading, but also because for me it is one of those books which has really taught me something about who I am and how I approach my life. What greater testament could there be to the skill of an author than this?
on 23 January 2009
What a gem of a novel, it's really a fairy story or myth about loss and redemption, how a working class man falls into the love of gold only to lose everything and find himself again through adopting a baby girl. The ending is a reverse Cinderella where the girl's upper class father tries to take her back and she refuses him.
As a piece of myth making this is a very strong story, but what really makes it special is the brilliance and sophistication of the prose. This is genius at work with an incredibly deft hand. Nothing here is accidental and it feels as though every phrase, reference, name, character and action is linked to the book's wider themes. The people and set pieces are delightfully observed, funny and wise and the rise and fall of emotion is sensuous. I honestly don't know where anyone learns to write like this.
Some readers might say that 'not much happens' or that there are long periods of description. I think this is mistaken, an enormous amount takes place in this book but Eliot is low-key about events and focuses on the feelings of the characters, leaving the descriptions as clever and and funny pen portraits into a way of life that give warp and weft to the story.
This is right up there with my best ever books
on 20 June 2014
I'm always hesitant about giving a 'Classic' a star rating!
It's a lovely little story - perhaps a little bit conservative in that the poor are happy in their squalor and don't need to be bothered about gentry who swan about causing misery and believing it is their right to do it.
Fabulous characterisation too. I'm not keen on 19th century novels (I read it as part of a book group), hence the 4 stars, but I enjoyed it and would recommend it.
on 10 May 2015
Silas Marner is a truly beautiful and thought provoking book in every sense of the words. From the off, this poetic, adorably cute and moving story captured my heart and imagination and plunged me into a maelstrom of emotions. As the book went along it drew me deeper and deeper into the fine and intricate web of events that make it up, and what events? They made my heart glow like the sun in the height of springtime. I never thought I'd find anything to move me as much as Frankenstein did, but Silas Marner is now right up there, as one of my favourite books of all time.
Silas Marner is a weaver and a recluse with a propensity to hoard and obsess over money. He was an unlikable, if not a pitiable character at first, that was difficult for a lot of people to relate to. However, when we learn how and why Silas Marner ended up like that we can understand it. He was wrongly accused of theft and extradited from his former community in the north of England. Marner moved south to a rural village, where he locked himself up inside a stone cottage and immersed himself in weaving and hoarding gold. At this point I felt nothing but pity for poor Marner and I strove for things to get better for him, but things only got worse! Marner was robbed of the only thing he treasured in his sad life, his gold and yet I didn't feel regret. This was the best thing that could have happened to him, because it forced him out of his seclusion and into the community, albeit he was completely depressed and broken.
It took a baby orphan girl, whose mum died of a drug overdose in Marner's backyard, to draw Marner completely out of his shell and unleash his inner heart, and what a wonderful heart that was. Marner cared and nurtured little Eppie into womanhood, an admirable sentiment that brought tears to my eyes. Little Eppie reminded a man, so shut up within himself that he still possesses emotions. Little Eppie reminded the formerly closed Silas Marner how to feel again and for that he adored her, and who can really blame him? For what is a man who cannot feel love, if not worse off than a corpse?
This story is a rollercoaster of emotions, it goes up and down and all over the place throughout and yet in spite of it all, it always has a warm and delicate undertone, which even in the darkest of places made me feel strong love and admiration towards the characters. I grew to know and love Silas Marner as well as every other character. It also gave me an insight into rural, rustic England of the 1800s, a talent that a lot of similar books written at the same time have failed to do.
Silas Marner is not an easy book to read, because of the elaborate words the author uses. You'll definitely need a dictionary to hand when reading this, and it takes a while to get into the flow of the poetic and lavish prose, but it is well worth the effort. I'm so glad I had the pleasure of reading Silas Marner, and I wish I could thank George Eliot personally for the pleasure of sharing her soul. She is simply wonderful.
Quote George Eliot:
"...He seemed to weave, like the spider, from pure impulse, without reflection. Every man's work, pursued steadily, tends in this way to become an end in itself, and so bridge over the loveless chasms of his life..."
"...He handled his golden coins, he counted them, till their form and colour were like the satisfaction of a thirst to him. But it was only in the night, when his weaving was done, that he drew his coins out to enjoy their companionship..."
"...Thought and feeling were so confused within Silas, that if he tried to give them utterance, he could have said that the child were come instead of his long lost gold-that the gold had turned into the child..."
on 7 July 2013
I read this book for the first time during school, I was told to analyse it and scruitinise every single use of figurative language and various other techniques that were employed by George Eliot.
I simply had to purchase this book again after seeing it on sale again for such a steal of a price! This book pushes you back in time to a life that is lived by an old miser who is eventually persuaded into thinking he has a heart...
Silas says: "Since the time the child was sent to me and I've come to love her as myself, I've had light enough to trusten by; and now she says she'll never leave me, I think I shall trusten till I die." ...
The awakening and redemption in Silas Marner are entirely earthly. They happen in this world, in the one lifetime at our disposal. "Our Perdita is found": here and now.
You can rest assured that buying this book is a great choice and you will have a gem to add to your collections.
Newspaper readers were invited recently to submit their choices for the greatest works published in the English language. When the choices were totalled, two works by Shakespeare featured in the top ten. Also featured, I was pleased to see, was a novel by George Eliot. Internet users, familiar with her works, will probably guess which of her novels was chosen. For those unfamiliar with her works, the best one to start with is "Silas Marner", a much shorter one. It is short, it is easy, it even works well in schools (as I can testify), and yet it is undoubtedly a masterpiece.
George Eliot sets her 1861 novel in the early decades of the nineteenth century in rural England. Silas Marner is a weaver. In the pattern that life weaves, he usually features as a victim. Because he is unjustly "framed", he loses his reputation and his betrothed in the town where he grew up. After years working as a weaver and living like a hermit in a rural district then, he is robbed by an unknown thief who uncovers and makes off with the cache of gold guineas Silas keeps under his floor. Happiness and joy come to Silas, however, and at the end of the novel he is told, "Nobody could be happier than we are".
George Eliot tells her tale with a mixture of womanly sympathy, sharp observation, tact, and humour. Her depiction of a long-gone past, and her clear pointing of right and wrong impulses, give the story qualities that are sometimes found in morality plays or in fairy tales. Don't skip over the scenes in the local inn, the Rainbow, where the simple-minded rustics discuss relevant issues, including the existence of ghosts.
For those who appreciate hearing good literature read aloud, I recommend the unabridged audio format of "Silas Marner" where the reader is Andrew Sachs. As you might expect of this fine English actor, who made Manuel from Barcelona so memorable in "Fawlty Towers", he is especially wonderful in portraying the argumentative, credulous, muddle-headed rustics that foregather at the Rainbow. His reading extends for nearly seven hours.