Silas Marner is the first work of George Eliot (1819 to 1880-UK) I have ever read. I picked it as my first Eliot because it is the shortest of her eight novels. Her great masterwork is, of course, Middlemarch. Based on my great liking for Silas Marner, I will be over the next few months be reading all of her novels in publication order. (There is a good article on her life and career here.)
Silas Marner is a weaver. He is wrongly accused of a crime and he leaves the town he grew up in. He is a very hard working man, bothering no one. He lives simply and frugally and manages to save a good bit of money for a working man. He is robbed. He then loses most of his interest in life but he goes on until he finds a dead woman in the snow who has left her baby daughter at Silas's door.
Lots going on here in terms of subplots involving two brothers but the girl who he raises sort of humanizes the rough bachelor and turns into the greatest joy in his life. I really liked it when the novel flashed ahead in part two sixteen years ahead in time so we could see how things will work out.
There are deep powerfully developed themes here. Faith, hope, loyalty, faith in God, are among them. Eliot is a very serious writer and this is a serious book. It is not hard to read or ponderous, or at least it did not seem so to me. I liked it so much that I will be reading all of her novels soon, I hope.
I know I have not spoken on other than to mention themes but maybe I will in subsequent posts on Eliot. Her prose is majestic and her insights are brilliant and may shock a bit with their acuity. Some might see her as heavy handed in pushing for the moral themes in her fiction and I can see that. The plot of the two brother is not as strong as it might be but this is a gem of a novel by a a writer from the very center of the Canon of the English novel.
Please share your experience with Eliot with us.