‘Our consciousness rarely registers the beginning of a growth within us any more than without us: there have been many circulations of the sap before we detect the smallest sign of the bud.’
Set in the agricultural town of Raveloe in the English countryside, Silas Marner is a tragic figure. Exiled from a religious community because of a wrongful accusation of theft, he works from day to day as a weaver, saving his money and living a lonely life as a recluse.
It is only when his money is stolen and a small orphan girl, Eppie appears in his life that Silas’s fortunes begin to change and he truly begins to learn what it means to regain his faith in life.
George Eliot's most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community. Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfillment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; the charming but tactless Dr Lydgate, whose marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamund and pioneering medical methods threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstrode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past. As their stories interweave, George Eliot creates a richly nuanced and moving drama, hailed by Virginia Woolf as 'one of the few English novels written for adult people'.
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‘People glorify all sorts of bravery except the bravery they might show on behalf of their nearest neighbours.’
An epic study of provincial life at a time when England was facing rapid industrialization and increasingly fluid social mobility, Eliot’s depiction of the small community of Middlemarch weaves an intricate web of different characters disparate lives as they strive to adapt to the changing world around them. Eliot was one of the first of her female contemporaries to write a novel that dealt with real-life issues and complex yet ordinary human life.