Tyler Jones's Reviews > Silas Marner

Silas Marner by George Eliot
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May 13, 11

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Read in May, 2006

2011 marks 150 years since the publication of Silas Marner. I can see why some modern readers would find the pace slow, the language difficult, the moral message too strong and the story too neatly tied up. That will happen if you insist that a mid-19th century novel be judged by early-21st century standards. I don't understand why some people refuse to read a book on it's own terms, but insist that the book conform to their terms. It's like they live in a city with great restaurants that represent every type of food in the world, but they only ever go to the steakhouse.

To me the story of the miserly weaver who loses his riches but discovers a greater treasure is one of the great novels of any time. The story itself is not so powerful as the incredibly deep insight the author has for what motivates human behaviour, particularly bad behaviour. Often while reading Silas Marner I was reminded of William Faulkner because both authors had a particular talent for exposing how people find self-righteous justifications for greedy actions. While Faulkner reveals hypocrisy in a darkly humorous way, Eliot shows compassion for all her characters, no matter how flawed, and one gets the sense that her novels are presided over by a kind and forgiving God. The novels of George Eliot do not simply instruct us in proper behavior (for who wants to be preached at?) but give an example of a kind loving attitude that is needed much more today, I think, than it was 150 years ago.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Jason Orendorff Brilliant review.


Stacey Batchelor I have not read any George Eliot but will after reading your review. I often feel people judge a book by today's standard which is usually a "quick fix" and do not take a moment to step back into the time it was written and listen to the words they read. Thanks


Tyler Jones Thank you, Stacey! I'm sure you will like her - and Silas Marner is a great one to start with.


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