Trevor's Reviews > Silas Marner

Silas Marner by George Eliot
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really liked it
bookshelves: literature

This is an odd wee book. I quite enjoyed it, but it is rather more showing its age than Middlemarch did. And it is similar in some ways to Middlemarch, or seems to be in the middle if not at the start and the end. It has the feel of snapshots of small town life. But the main story seems really odd for someone who translated Feuerbach's Essence of Christianity. This is a tale of redemption, but also one of a special providence, and as such it is a very Christian work, I think.

The idea that a man might lose everything - and repeatedly - and yet, through an act of love regain all and more is a pretty nice structure for a novel. And somewhat like the story of the interpretation of the Pharaoh's dreams of the thin cows eating the fat cows by Joseph there are about 15 lean and 15 good years. The fear, of course, is that the return of what is lost will mean the taking away of what has been gained - but this is a story where that last bit of Abbey Road should be sounding in your head as you turn the last page, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

I guess many of us have, at one time or another, wondered how much better our lives might be if the people who are tormenting and holding us from what we desire were to suddenly die or leave our lives forever in some way. If this is a book of providence, it is also a book of Karma. And of religious themes I guess those two are better than vengeance and damnation.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
April 13, 2012 – Shelved
April 13, 2012 – Shelved as: literature
April 13, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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Helen (Helena/Nell) It IS redemptive, of course, but it is not also about treasure, and how treasure is never anything to do with money or possessions?

Trevor Yes. I liked how fate made him a miser and then unmade him later by giving him Eppie. But I thought Godfrey was even more interesting here. His 'punishment' needed to happen in the story in ways it probably wouldn't have need to happen in life. Which only goes to prove that fiction is a much nicer place than life and probably a good part of the reason we tend to spend so much time there and as little time as possible here.

Lorraine eh, only in George Eliot. Woman had some notion about books having to have some morals or whatever, and keeps preaching. it is about treasure -- if there's one thing I recall the little girl's hair is explicitly compared to 'gold' right. So she's playing around with the senses of 'treasure'. Maryann might be a bit of a nag, but she sure knows how to write.

·Karen· I think Eliot has a very human vision: religion as the glue of communities, without it necessarily being hugely spiritually significant. Something that is there as a habit of mind rather than a real necessity. Marner is taken into the community of Raveloe through love and neighbourliness and family and friendliness, not from christian virtue.

Trevor I read her translation of The Essence of Christianity years ago, I think what you say is certainly true.

Heidi Whurr Having not read Middlemarch I cannot compare Silas Marner to that yet, but I do intend to read it soon.

I like the fact that you picked up on the religious element of this book Trevor, but perhaps you over focus on it. I think the "theme" of the book could have been about anything, she chose religion because of the time it was written. George Eliot herself was actually an agnostic of the age, which is unusual for back then, and I like the fact that she understates religion, it means Eliot focused more on story, and what a lovely story!

I smiled the whole way through it. I did not think this was an odd story as you say, it followed all the rules of good story telling and although at times Eliot veered off at a slight tangent, it was never so wide as to make me lose interest. I thoroughly loved this story.

Concerning your words on redemption, I don't think Silas Marner nurtured Eppie to redeem himself, I think he did it because she filled a hole in his life, for what is a man without love? I believe Eppie reminded Silas how to feel again, for he had been shut up inside for so long he had forgotten that.


Trevor "I don't think Silas Marner nurtured Eppie to redeem himself, I think he did it because she filled a hole in his life, for what is a man without love?"

No, you are right, I also don't think he did this to redeem himself, but redeemed he was anyway. The point, I think, was the redirection of his love from the fetish with money to something not cold and dead, something capable of returning his investment in love.

There is a lovely line in a book about script writing called Story that says a film ought to make the worst possible thing that can happen to a character their actual path to redemption - I guess that is pretty much what happened here.

message 8: by Heidi (last edited May 14, 2015 06:06AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Heidi Whurr Yes, I completely agree with that line! I find when reading books, it is more pleasurably when the main characters suffer more (I hope that doesn't make me seem morbid?). It is one of the rules of writing: put your main characters through hell. It works! When a reader has strong emotions either good or bad the reader generally tends to read on.

message 9: by dianne (new) - added it

dianne i so enjoy your writing. And i am counting on Karma.
A thoughtful review - but yours always are. Thanks!

Trevor Thanks Dianne - and this one has the distinct advantage of being short.

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