Monday, March 30, 2009
The gods of the hearth exist for us still
A long time ago, I took a graduate course devoted to George Eliot and it's remained one of my favourite courses ever taken. Being introduced to Eliot opened up a whole new world for me because she was just such a ridiculously perfect writer (mind, I haven't read Romola, which I'm told has some weird translation issues). I don't mean perfect in that Fielding's Tom Jones way, where there are absolutely no loose threads left anywhere though. (I did enjoy Tom Jones, very much, but it was very neat, which I'm not sure is an unmitigated good.)
No, for me Eliot is perfect because her writing is so good and so human and unlike Dickens, whom I certainly adore, she never uses the narrative equivalent of loudly proclaiming and gesturing wildly to drive home the importance of any given moment or event. She quietly and clearly lays it all out and trusts us to get it.
And Silas Marner, which inexplicably is the first Eliot I've read in 10 years!!!, is perfect in the way I remember the other Eliot novels I've read being; indeed, perhaps more so. This is why I read - to sometimes have the pleasure of engaging with books this beautiful in both subject and execution.
A gesture towards a plot spoiler - careful!
Silas Marner is what my down east peeps would call a come-from-away in small town Raveloe. He just shows up one day not knowing anyone and begins plying his trade as a weaver. People find him strange but necessary because of the work he does, and he spends fifteen year collecting money, which in the face of his almost complete lack of human interaction becomes the focus of all his passion. He ends up being robbed of all of it and he almost loses his mind...but then he's given something much better. I won't say anymore because while surprise isn't what makes this novel amazing, it won't hurt either.
I'm looking forward to reading Romola, which wasn't on the syllabus of the course I took. I'm also looking forward to Middlemarch, which was on the syllabus but which I didn't read because the font in the copy I had was too small and I needed new glasses and trying to read it was giving me migraines and I was too broke to get either another copy or new specs and someone had the book out of the library and...and. Sigh. It's a big blot on my reading and grad school credibilities, I know. I know! But I'll try to make up for it soon. Mea culpa.