logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: George-Eliot
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-04-23 10:30
All that glitters is not gold...
Silas Marner - George Eliot

I have previously reviewed the delights of ‘Middlemarch’ (see blogpost dated 1/1/17), which is generally regarded as the pinnacle of George Eliot’s literary achievements and undoubtedly it is a masterpiece. I also catapulted ‘Adam Bede’ onto my favourites shelf (see post dated 10/6/17) and so I came to ‘Silas Marner’, the author’s third novel (originally published in 1861) with high expectations and again, I was not disappointed. In truth, this book is another sublime tale by Eliot, with at its core a challenging moral conundrum, which has further bolstered my admiration of her work.

 

Eliot has ‘form’ in conferring unflattering characteristics on wealthy scoundrels, counterbalancing a virtuous example of the poor and comparatively powerless, but the story of the ‘Weaver of Raveloe’ is far more than a simple exposition of right and wrong, good and bad. Rather, like the main character’s fine linen, it is an intricately woven piece of artisanship, which demonstrates the redeeming and noble capacity of good people to do the right thing, even in the absence of personal gain. Such egalitarian principles may not be the social norm’, but in the small communities described by Eliot, they do establish reputations and reinforce social standing.

 

Silas Marner arrives at Raveloe chastened by a false accusation of theft in his pious, former community, who turned against him despite a lack of evidence. As a consequence, Marner moves away, turns inward and maintains only limited contact with his new neighbours, to sell his linens and buy food. By design, Marner’s becomes an isolated, frugal and reclusive life. Yet, even in the absence of contact with his peers, the central character discovers he cannot avoid the shaping of a local reputation, born of rumour and the imagination of villagers. The theft of his life’s savings, however, brings Marner to an even lower point in his life, from which his resilience will be ultimately tested.

 

The parallel plotline, deftly created by the author, concerns the sons of the local Squire Cass, whose privileged, profligate lifestyle is diametrically opposed to that of Silas Marner and yet converge they must upon the introduction of a two year-old orphan, who becomes the pivotal character for the respective storylines. Disregarding local opinions, Marner takes responsibility for the child (under the existing ‘Poor Law’ this would otherwise have fallen on the parish) and here strong female characters come onto play. I’m especially fond of Dolly Winthrop, local matriarch, who befriends Marner and takes the ardent bachelor in hand, to support the child-rearing and steer him into the heart of the village. ‘Eppie’ as she is christened gives new life to Marner and he in turn selflessly dedicates himself to her.

 

Only on the cusp of her adulthood are the ties of love tested by those of blood. A decision about whether to accept an opportunity for social elevation is a theme Eliot returns to in ‘Middlemarch’, written some ten years later and the author again mines a very fertile seam here, highlighting the apparently arbitrary nature class and of life’s chances. However, there are a number of underlying messages to be gleaned from this nineteenth century parable. Among them,‘life is what one makes of it’; 'it's never too late to change'; and ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. In any event, such masterful storytelling continues to resonate with our own time and great writing will always have an audience. Another for my favourites shelf.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-12-19 14:23
Reading progress update: I've read 4 out of 460 pages.
The Penguin Classics Book - Various Authors,Henry Eliot

This book has already caused an expansion of my wish-list...

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-11-26 15:35
VoxGirl: "Middlemarch" by George Eliot
Middlemarch - George Eliot


(Original Review, 2002-06-12)


A drop of water on your head is easy to ignore; a constant drop in the same spot becomes a form of torture.

For some women, their big problem is they can't kick out a cheating boyfriend. For others, their problem is they can't say no to a bridezilla best friend. Others are hung up on their bosses, or confused about their careers, or having issues with overbearing mothers, or with parents getting divorced, etc.

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-07-27 04:46
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Middlemarch - George Eliot

'Middlemarch' is the daunting 5th novel from George Eliot. It primarily concerns the lives of the gentry and middle class, but showcases Eliot's dazzling ability to create worlds. The English novel typically had large supporting casts of characters and depended upon depicting shades of rural life, but Eliot was a master of crowd-work. Her four major plots are punctuated by extended sequences of social calls, gossip, and plain conversation that reverberate through the main text and give it life. I hesitate to call many of the characters minor not merely because of the their place in the plot, but in because how deftly they're drawn. These characters have layers. No matter how small their role is in the plot, like Miss Horner, or even a barely mentioned Mr. Clintup, have history and lives going on behind the scenes. They also have subtle social relationships with each other.

I read this novel at breakneck speed, perhaps 12 hours altogether over two evenings and a morning, and that allowed me to really experience the close relationships between many of the characters. Eliot provides vast insight into the inner lives of her characters, but also in their differing outer relationships with each other including all of the misunderstandings that create the two 'main' marriages of the plot, and, more cunning, the relationships which possess understanding. Dorothea and Casaubon; Lydgate and Rosamund; as fraught as their whole situation is, it was the relationship between Camden Farebrother and his family, Mr. and Mrs. Garth's mutual recalculation of their lives in the wake of Fred's note coming due (without Mrs. Garth knowing beforehand!), and even Trumbull, the auctioneer, being bequeathed a gold-headed cane seemed to be punctuation to a long-told joke.

Maybe I'm still worn out from all of that not sleeping so I could read 'Middlemarch' in time for the book club, but everything in this meandering novel is significant. It is not significant with the everything is an allegory way either. Eliot raised the bar again with her research, giving 'Middlemarch' an impeccable timeline and even mined 40-year-old medical journals for Lydgate's benefit. I loved this.

This novel merits the reams of words that have been written about it. She is rapidly becoming my favorite author. I was disappointed by 'Silas Marner' and my appreciation for 'Romola' is (mostly) academic. I had a bad time of it in college when I had to read this for the most boring man ever to scrape a chalkboard, but I'm so glad that I gave it another chance. Many serial novels suffer from how they were written, even with polish and editing, there's usually something disconnected. I'm including Thackeray and Dickens in that criticism, among others. Eliot was a planner and the end-notes of my edition repeatedly referenced her process. Read it in a glorious rush the way I did, or in your own serene time, but this one is worth it.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2018-03-07 03:29
Silas Marner -- Reading/Rereading the classics
Silas Marner - George Eliot

Funny story: I have my mom's copy of this (another pre-ISBN book I own...) I bought myself a Kindle copy but that's not the funny part. The funny part is that I read this ages ago, with my mother when I was very young. We read it together. She had read it with her mother, so I guess it was supposed to be a thing. (If she'd ever read another book besides Jane Eyre, maybe it would have been.) But over the years, I'd forgotten most of it. I'm always annoyed when I see a star rating on my books marked read and can't remember much, so since it's short, I read it yesterday. I knew it involved a weaver and his daughter. But in my brilliant mind, I meshed it with Rumpelstiltskin. What a shocker when nobody spun any gold!

 

This really is a lovely story. Before it's lovely, it's laugh aloud funny too. Despite its age, the language is easy to understand and it's an incredibly quick read. George Eliot packed a lot of story into a very slim book, and an original telling into a morality play. A ton of characters and plot lines all weave together effortlessly to end in a tear-jerker.

 

Interestingly, she thought this was a throwaway, or perhaps it should be a poem. We're lucky she finished the story because it really is a little gem. Now I suppose I should reread Rumpelstiltskin in case I've got that mixed up with something else entirely too.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?