“It’s like the night and the morning, and the sleeping and the waking, and the rain and the harvest—one goes and the other comes, and we know nothing how nor where. We may strive and scrat and fend, but it’s little we can do arter all—the big things come and go with wi’ no striving o’ our’n—they do, that they do.” — Dolly Winthrop in Silas Marner, by George Eliot
Silas Marner, my second foray into George Eliot’s work, was a beautiful success. Though less than a quarter the length of Middlemarch, Silas Marner explores the intricacies of human existence in the same insightful way.
Where it departs, however, is that Silas Marner feels more mythical, and much more redemption-focused. Contrasting themes are at play throughout, too: folktales vs. realism, chance vs. labor, money vs. happiness. And as I’m starting to think is definitive of Eliot, this novel closely examines how we function with and without community, and gently advises us to be better to our neighbors. Eliot packs this all into such a short space that the end result for me was breathlessly charming and satisfying. If you’re in search of a well-written, well-told, but short, feel-good, classic, Silas Marner might be for you.
Thanks to to our little #middlemarching crew for another great Eliot read!
Q: What’s a short book with a big story that you love?
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