Monday, January 16, 2012

Silas Marner

I just finished reading my second George Eliot book, Silas Marner. I chose it to read because I wanted to read another book by her and I had heard of it. I got it for free (in Kindle form) from Amazon.

The basic idea of the book is that a man named Silas Marner has lost his faith after being (in essence) exiled from his (what we would now call) fundamentalist religious community, and has settled in a new town, where he becomes a miser and a recluse. Then a series of strange events involving a nobleman and an unwanted child alter the course of his life.

Before I read it, I read a review on Amazon, by a Susan Hallander, which begins thusly:
Question: How can you ensure that a person will hate a book? Answer: Make her read it for 7th grade English class, make sure that the language is old-fashioned, and above all, make sure that the ideas and concepts are over her head. If that's what happened to you, and that's why you have an aversion to Silas Marner, and you are now over 30, pick it up again. Read it twice. Silas Marner is one of the greatest novels in the English language.
As a result, while I was reading it, I had that context in the back of my mind - what would it have been like to read this in 7th grade?

Ultimately, while I enjoyed reading it, and was always reasonably eager to continue, I found Silas Marner disappointing. In some ways I would have enjoyed it less in 7th grade, but in other ways, 7th grade might have been a better time to read it. I probably would have appreciated its folksy moralism better when I was younger and less cynical.

I don't know what to say about this book in terms of anyone's decision of whether to read it or not. The book it most reminded me of, that I did read in school, was The Scarlet Letter, but that's probably a rather ignorant comparison.

1 comment:

Sally said...

I owned this book for about 20 years (I am not exaggerating) without ever reading it, so I finally got rid of it when I moved to NC. It just didn't seem all that interesting, ultimately, and it still doesn't.