28 March 2010

Weaving a Tale

There are so many books to be read, it doesn't seem productive to read one more than once. There are the select few, however, that become dear enough that you re-read them for comfort more than for the search for new information or the desire for a new thrill.

My copy of Silas Marner is a little more worn than the others.

Silas is, by the time we meet him, somewhat past his shining prime. I think it's Eliot's masterful painting of Silas which appeals to me the most. Guileless, bent and nearsighted from his close work, superbly wretched - what a great heroic figure! Ah! say you. Only a librarian could love this non-hero!

Silas is, of course, a metaphor. (Look up metaphor, kids, because the fine points of this definition are as important as the very delicate development of Silas himself). He carries the weight (by representation) of all the injustice of the world. And he represents the triumph of the true man over all that injustice.

If you have ever trusted my opinion, you must trust it now. Read (or re-read) this book and watch for the real story. If you were required to read it the first time, you almost surely missed the point. Yes, it's a little old-fashioned (published in 1861). Yes, the moral lesson is painted neon yellow and a mile wide. (It's the Victorian era, don't forget.) For Austen lovers, it has sentiment, if not romantic vapors. For the unsentimental, it has a commanding grasp of small-town character-types. The message of redemption never fails to move me.

Come on. It's like gold under the floor boards.

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