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Silas Marner by George Eliot
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Silas Marner (1861)

by George Eliot

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6,54185583 (3.78)335
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This is a great story and a good introduction to George Eliot. She really captures the characters of the English countryside. She can capture their accent on the written page. ( )
  Benedict8 | Jul 16, 2014 |
In Silas Marner, George Eliot has crafted a heartwarming fable woven with incisive commentary on religion, community and the true meaning of wealth. The title character starts out as a faithful member of a religious commune, poised to marry the love of his life. He soon finds himself framed for theft and is exiled from the community. Betrayed, disillusioned and heartbroken, Marner settles on the edge of a faraway village. He becomes a hermit, finding solace in counting his precious stash of gold coins each night. He interacts with the outside world only as required to sell the cloth he weaves and accumulate more gold.

But fate intervenes in Marner's life once (well, twice) more. He is forced to engage with the village community, and the rest of the story follows his resulting growth and redemption.

Though the material is more simple than that of her larger works, Silas Marner still showcases Eliot's masterful (but admittedly dense) literary style, signature social commentary and humanist beliefs. Her keen observation of human nature helps her writing speak to readers hundreds of years and thousands of miles distant. I heartily recommend Silas Marner to all lovers of literature. Due to the book's modest length, it is especially suited to someone looking for a taste of Eliot's work but who may not have the time or patience to take on Middlemarch. Or the world-weary intellectual looking for an uplifting, fairytale-like story to restore their faith in humanity. ( )
  Ellen_Elizabeth | May 21, 2014 |
I liked this for lots of reasons that didn't relate to the plot or the execution of the plot: namely, for historical details about weaving (that one person in a village would have a loom set up in their house and would take in spun flax from the rest of the villagers and would turn it into cloth for them), about relative isolation of villages (that Silas Marner could seem like a complete otherworldly alien, not merely because of his profession, but because he came from over the hill and far away, and that you could have Dissenter villages, such as the one SM grew up in), for portrayal of drug addiction back in the 19th century (Godfrey's first wife), and for portrayal of a single, working parent--and a father at that--bringing up a child. That last part I found fascinating, though in terms of percentage of the story, it occupied a very small portion. Silas Marner must find a way to keep his adopted daughter Eppie out of harm's way while he's weaving. He ties her to the loom at one point; at another point he puts her in something like a high chair or a playpen. He also has to deal with disciplining her; he can't bring himself to mete out corporal punishment, and the thing he hits on as a replacement, on the recommendation of his solicitous neighbor, Eppie turns into a game. These details struck me as so realistic and charming! As did this portrait of toddler Eppie, who's wandered off one day:
The meadow was searched in vain; and he got over the stile into the next field, looking with dying hope towards a small pond which was now reduced to its summer shallowness, so as to leave a wide margin of good adhesive mud. Here, however, sat Eppie, discoursing cheerfully to her own small boot, which she was using as a bucket to convey the water into a deep hoof-mark, while her little naked foot was planted comfortably on a cushion of olive-green mud. A red-headed calf was observing her with alarmed doubt through the opposite hedge.

As for the story itself, and its execution. . . It bewildered me slightly. George Eliot spent an awful lot of time (from my perspective) on things like SM's early years in his first village, and his being falsely accused of a crime there--I understand why *some* time needs to be spent on that, but it felt like a lot to me--and on things like the pub scene, which seems to be there just to establish local color, or on the ladies talking together prior to the squire's ball. These were all interesting in their own right, but for me, they also bogged down the forward motion of the story. I liked the time spent in Godfrey's head. He was such a weak-willed guy, so capable of lying to himself and taking the easy way out, and George Eliot showed that perfectly. I wasn't as persuaded by her portrait of SM in his gold-hoarding days. I could accept what she was telling me about SM, but I didn't believe it viscerally. (Whereas, his transformation and his desire to parent Eppie--all that I did believe.)

In the end, I thought this was a very engaging story, but not in the ways that GE probably intended me to find it engaging, and it failed (somewhat) in engaging me in the ways I think she intended it to be engaging. But still, I liked it very much. For psychological portraits, and for an interesting glimpse into history--and for the surprising single-male-parent angle--I think it's an excellent story.
( )
  FrancescaForrest | May 12, 2014 |
I liked this for lots of reasons that didn't relate to the plot or the execution of the plot: namely, for historical details about weaving (that one person in a village would have a loom set up in their house and would take in spun flax from the rest of the villagers and would turn it into cloth for them), about relative isolation of villages (that Silas Marner could seem like a complete otherworldly alien, not merely because of his profession, but because he came from over the hill and far away, and that you could have Dissenter villages, such as the one SM grew up in), for portrayal of drug addiction back in the 19th century (Godfrey's first wife), and for portrayal of a single, working parent--and a father at that--bringing up a child. That last part I found fascinating, though in terms of percentage of the story, it occupied a very small portion. Silas Marner must find a way to keep his adopted daughter Eppie out of harm's way while he's weaving. He ties her to the loom at one point; at another point he puts her in something like a high chair or a playpen. He also has to deal with disciplining her; he can't bring himself to mete out corporal punishment, and the thing he hits on as a replacement, on the recommendation of his solicitous neighbor, Eppie turns into a game. These details struck me as so realistic and charming! As did this portrait of toddler Eppie, who's wandered off one day:
The meadow was searched in vain; and he got over the stile into the next field, looking with dying hope towards a small pond which was now reduced to its summer shallowness, so as to leave a wide margin of good adhesive mud. Here, however, sat Eppie, discoursing cheerfully to her own small boot, which she was using as a bucket to convey the water into a deep hoof-mark, while her little naked foot was planted comfortably on a cushion of olive-green mud. A red-headed calf was observing her with alarmed doubt through the opposite hedge.

As for the story itself, and its execution. . . It bewildered me slightly. George Eliot spent an awful lot of time (from my perspective) on things like SM's early years in his first village, and his being falsely accused of a crime there--I understand why *some* time needs to be spent on that, but it felt like a lot to me--and on things like the pub scene, which seems to be there just to establish local color, or on the ladies talking together prior to the squire's ball. These were all interesting in their own right, but for me, they also bogged down the forward motion of the story. I liked the time spent in Godfrey's head. He was such a weak-willed guy, so capable of lying to himself and taking the easy way out, and George Eliot showed that perfectly. I wasn't as persuaded by her portrait of SM in his gold-hoarding days. I could accept what she was telling me about SM, but I didn't believe it viscerally. (Whereas, his transformation and his desire to parent Eppie--all that I did believe.)

In the end, I thought this was a very engaging story, but not in the ways that GE probably intended me to find it engaging, and it failed (somewhat) in engaging me in the ways I think she intended it to be engaging. But still, I liked it very much. For psychological portraits, and for an interesting glimpse into history--and for the surprising single-male-parent angle--I think it's an excellent story.
( )
  FrancescaForrest | May 12, 2014 |
This was quite a sad tale in the beginning, as Silas through no fault of his own ends up having to leave his home town & travel far away to Raveloe, where he takes up his weaving, & becomes wealthy in the bargain, until Dunstan, the ne'er do well second son of Squire Cass breaks in to his home, & steals the hoard of gold that Silas' hard work has built up. Later on, Silas finds Eppie, who is "sent to" him after she wanders in to his home through his open door deep one winter night when her opium addicted mother passes out under a bush & dies not far from Silas' home. How these events are tied to the Cass family is kind of convoluted, but it all turns out well in the end.

Very sweet tale! ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 17, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (88 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eliot, Georgeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allen, WalterAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cave, TerenceEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gulick, Edward LeedsEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leavis, Q.D.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moffett, H. Y.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montazzoli, PaulIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pitt, David G.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rowe, ClarenceIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"A child, more than all other gifts
That earth can offer to declining man,
Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts,"

~ Wordsworth
Dedication
First words
In the days when the spinning wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses--and even great ladies, clothed in silk and thread lace, had their toy spinning wheels of polished oak--there might be seen in districts far away among the lanes, or deep in the bosom of the hills, certain pallid undersized men, who, by the side of the brawny country-folk, looked like the remnants of a disinherited race.
Quotations
Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.
In old days there were angels who came and took men by the hand and led them away from the city of destruction.  We see no white-winged angels now.  But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child's.
There were old labourers in the parish of Raveloe who were known to have their savings by them, probably inside their flock-beds.
Perfect love has a breath of poetry which can exalt the relations of the least instructed human beings.
Instead of trying to still his fears, he encouraged them, with that superstitious impression which clings to us all, that if we expect evil very strongly it is the less likely to come;...
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The heartwarming novel of a miser and a little child, is one of the great all-time classics, a tale so rich in human understanding that it will capture hearts and minds as long as books are read.

Filled with qualities that made George Eliot world-famous as a writer, it is a narrative at once bold, compassionate, and dramatically powerful.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451530624, Mass Market Paperback)

A gentle linen weaver is accused of a heinous crime. Exiling himself, he becomes a recluse, only to find redemption in his love for an abandoned child who mysteriously appears one day in his isolated cottage. Somber yet hopeful, Eliot's stirring tale continues to touch the human spirit.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:18 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

A lonely old man, falsely accused of theft, finds salvation in the love of a young child.

» see all 25 descriptions

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Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439750, 0141389451

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