Embittered by a false accusation, disappointed in friendship and love, the weaver Silas Marner retreats into a long twilight life alone with his loom. . . and his gold. Silas hoards a treasure that kills his spirit until fate steals it from him and replaces it with a golden-haired founding child. Where she came from, who her parents were, and who really stole the gold are the secrets that permeate this moving tale of guilt and innocence. A moral allegory of the redemptive power of love, it is also a finely drawn picture of early nineteenth-century England in the days when spinning wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses, and of a simple way of life that was soon to disappear.
This 19th-century classic, read by Andrew Sachs, is a tale of betrayal, gold, and love, encased in the elegant symmetrical structure so popular in traditional English fiction, featuring Marner, the weaver, who is framed for theft by his best friend and becomes a recluse, focusing his strong affections only on the store of golden coins he receives in payment for his work. As usual, Chivers has produced an excellent audio presentation of a literary masterpiece. Alas, in this day and age fewer and fewer readers not enrolled in literature classes actually read the works of what are frequently referred to as "dead white males" even if, as in this case, they were actually written by a woman. For this reason, this title is recommended for all academic but only larger public libraries.--I. Pour-El, Iowa State Univ., Ames Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2005
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Excerpt from Silas Marner by George Eliot
In the days when the spinning-wheels hummed busily in the farm-housesýand even great ladies, clothed in silk and thread-lace, had their toy spinning-wheels of polished oakýthere might be seen in districts far away among the lanes, or deep in the bosom of the hills, certain pallid undersized men, who, by the side of the brawny country-folk, looked like the remnants of a disinherited race. The shepherdýs dog barked fiercely when one of these alien-looking men appeared on the upland, dark against the early winter sunset; for what dog likes a figure bent under a heavy bag?ýand these pale men rarely stirred abroad without that mysterious burden. The shepherd himself, though he had good reason to believe that the bag held nothing but flaxen thread, or else the long rolls of strong linen spun from that thread, was not quite sure that this trade of weaving, indispensable though it was, could be carried on entirely without the help of the Evil One. In that far-off time superstition clung easily round every person or thing that was at all unwonted, or even intermittent and occasional merely, like the visits of the pedlar or the knife-grinder. No one knew where wandering men had their homes or their origin; and how was a man to be explained unless you at least knew somebody who knew his father and mother? To the peasants of old times, the world outside their own direct experience was a region of vagueness and mystery: to their untravelled thought a state of wandering was a conception as dim as the winter life of the swallows that came back with the spring; and even a settler, if he came from distant parts, hardly ever ceased to be viewed with a remnant of distrust, which would have prevented any surprise if a long course of inoffensive conduct on his part had ended in the commission of a crime; especially if he had any reputation for knowledge, or showed any skill in handicraft. All cleverness, whether in the rapid use of that difficult instrument the tongue, or in some other art unfamiliar to villagers, was in itself suspicious: honest folk, born and bred in a visible manner, were mostly not overwise or cleverýat least, not beyond such a matter as knowing the signs of the weather; and the process by which rapidity and dexterity of any kind were acquired was so wholly hidden, that they partook of the nature of conjuring. In this way it came to pass that those scattered linen-weaversýemigrants from the town into the countryýwere to the last regarded as aliens by their rustic neighbours, and usually contracted the eccentric habits which belong to a state of loneliness.