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0194 | Silas Marner – George Eliot

Context: Listened to this walking around Cambridge trying to find a decent pair of sandals for our trip to Papua New Guinea.

Only read Middlemarch before by Eliot although I’m familiar with the story of Marner through watching the film ages and ages ago. I liked the film, but what did I think of reading Eliot’s writing?

Well, I think I prefer the film to be honest. I think the storyline is pretty good but Eliot’s just so verbose and I find her insights in human character just a bit too lengthy to capture my attention. Take the first line, for instance (below). How many clauses is she trying to throw at the reader with just this one sentence?

The book just didn’t move me at all. I didn’t even care much for Marner’s relationship with Eppie as it was written. I saw the film with Ben Kingsley playing Marner and was deeply moved by the themes of justice and social retribution but the book left me cold.

I can see Eliot’s cynicism of established institutions (i.e. the church) coming through much more in the book but, without Austen’s wit and humour, this seemed just too directly done to be worthy of considered thought – too black and white for me.

And is it only me that thinks it’s bad taste to have your epileptic protagonist naming his adopted daughter Eppie?

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.

“O father,” said Eppie, “what a pretty home ours is! I think nobody could be happier than we are.”

rubbish | poor | mediocre | okay | good | very good | excellent | superb

6 comments… add one
  • Lauren 27 July, 2009, 2:09 pm

    I totally agree with you on this review. I find that messages tend to get overlooked when the author is particularly wordy. Those are the only “books as movies” that I tend to enjoy more as the movie than the book. (Also, reading Silas in high school English and killing everything with over-analysis of the literary elements didn’t help me like this novel either!)

  • michael 10 September, 2009, 1:03 pm

    this was something of a classic in its way. Unfortunately yes over review can kill the interest in it.

    Just reading it for its own sake makes it a jolly good book.

    the film did not do it justice i feel

  • Jack 1 October, 2015, 3:21 pm

    I must admit I haven’t actually finished the book yet – about 4/5 of way through but at the moment am totally enthralled by it and don’t really think it is verbose – once you get used to it.

    • Arukiyomi 5 October, 2015, 5:10 pm

      I probably wouldn’t think so now Jack… especially after having tackled Henry James!

      • Jack 6 October, 2015, 10:54 am

        “Portrait of a Lady” and “Turn of the Screw” I certainly rated highly. Quite a few more on the list I haven’t got round to yet.

        • Arukiyomi 11 October, 2015, 4:30 pm

          Well wait until you get to The Wings of the Dove. Oh my….

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