George Eliot (Mary Anne or Marian Evans) wrote Silas Marner (1861) shortly after The Mill on the Floss (1860) was published. It is her shortest work, at 200 pages. If I'd read this story without reading the introduction, I would have read the story believing the author had written a Christian fiction story. The introduction told me that George Eliot's story was of humanity and "redemption." "Redemption" not in the Christian definition, but in a humanity definition. After reading about Marian Evans life I don't know if she was set in a certain religious belief; but instead tried on a few beliefs before making a decision to pick and choose for herself.
Silas Marner is the story of a man named Silas Marner. He had lived in a small village named Lantern Yard, England. The time period is "in the early years of this century" (19th century.) Lantern Yard had falsely accused Silas Marner, and he left to begin anew in Raveloe. Small towns and villages distrust strangers. When a stranger came into their small world of village life, they immediately assumed the negative. Silas was a weaver. He worked long hours over his spinning-wheel. His brown eyes were unable to see distance, this blurry vision prevented him from seeing people that saw him and wished to speak. His objective in life was his work on the spinning-wheel and in making money. Silas did not join a church, nor take part in social events; he was protective because of what had happened in Lantern Yard. The more Silas retreated from society, the more Raveloe mistrusted him. A local man named Dunstan stole Silas's hard earned money. Silas was over-whelmed with grief. The town of Raveloe did not ally themselves with Silas, they felt they hardly knew him. An orphaned child followed a "gleam of light" that led to Silas's front door. A "gold headed child" became the polar shift in his life.
I love this story for several reasons.
1. It addresses estrangement, false accusation, rumor, gossip, and judging.
2. George Eliot (Marian Evans) understood how it felt to be ostracized and judged. This gave her the ability to write a story with passion, that provoked a response of sympathy from the reader.
3. After Silas's commitment to care for the child, he is accepted by and helped by the town. This gave him hope in humanity.
4. Silas's love for the child and the child's love for him is beautiful, moving, memorable.
5. The story shows what we think we'd be incapable of doing, is possible.
6. What matters most is love.
7. You cannot assume you know what is best for someone who has carried what you did not.
If you have a chance to read information about this author, follow the link to a blog entitled
A Literary Odyssey. Note, the give-away ended.
I've read Silas Marner twice in my life. The first time was several years ago, before I blogged. Recently I re-read this book and fell in love with it all over again.
My original copy is a Wordsworth Classic paperback 1999. The introduction is by R. T. Jones.
Second copy is an Everyman's Library Alfred A. Knopf hardcover 1993. The introduction is by Rosemary Ashton.
I don't know if you are aware, but there are many free classic literature eBooks available @
Kindle edition is free:
Wordsworth Classic Paperback:
In addition Project Gutenberg offers free eBooks.
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