Discussion Notes on George Eliot’s Silas Marner 6/11/19 ISBN 9781853262210
This month reading group were lucky enough to welcome John Burton, Chair of the George Eliot Fellowship, who had generously donated the books for this month’s reading group, for the 200th anniversary of George Eliot. Having John’s knowledge and expertise on all things George Eliot was a fantastic addition to our discussions.
We overwhelmingly enjoyed the book, although a number of us found the writing style hard to process at first. There was talk of “getting your eye in” and learning how to read George Eliot. The group enjoyed the way that the story came back around to a satisfying conclusion, although we recognised it was a definite novel of two halves. We talked about how the first half of the book was very descriptive, setting the scene, and some felt that hindered enjoyment of the novel at first, but that the second half was where the plot got going.
John told us about plans for a children’s adaptation of the novel, and we discussed the feeling of a fairy tale in the book. The dialect also interested the group, some notes of it were recognised still by locals amongst us, and the idea of the local area being your whole world, and that another town was another country captured our imagination. We loved hearing from John about where the fictional areas are located in real life. Being in a local setting enabled us to visualise the novel in a cinematic way. Apparently George Eliot wrote the novel in just 6 weeks, having been distracted whilst writing the Mill on the Floss.
The group particularly enjoyed Dolly, with her no-nonsense approach to life, and felt real empathy for Silas, how he was betrayed at the start of the novel, and warmed to the story of his redemption. He was brave to ask for help in that crowded pub, but in doing so, his redemption came from other beings.
It felt right to read George Eliot, given that we work in a hospital named after her, and there’s talk of making it an annual event- November is George Eliot month for this reading group!