I was feeling in the mood for a classic this summer, so I picked up a book I’d been meaning to read for a while now.
I read Silas Marner, by George Eliot, and I gave it 3.5/5 stars.
The plot of this book is rather intriguing, especially since it touches on something I personally think is not spoken of enough in modern day: religious disillusionment. The premise of the story is that a young man, faithful and devout in his small, tight-knit community of believers (of a sect of Christianity not widely accepted), is wronged by his church community in such a way that he rejects his faith altogether, leaves his community, and lives sad life as an outsider in a strange new land. The man’s love of God and his fellow man was so crushed that he could take no pleasure in anything but the money he earned by the work of his hands. This sad, state of affairs goes on for years and years until something happens to change his heart.
Now, on the outset, this description sounds like a Hallmark Channel movie waiting to happen, but the book deals with some very real and generally untouched sore spots regarding religious communities, personal faith, and extreme disillusionment in what one thought to be an absolute truth. This is a topic that church people everywhere avoid like the plague because of the deep rooted fear of widespread doubt and eventual unbelief in the God of the structure. This topic is too complex to tackle in a simple book review, but suffice it to say that I will revisit to themes of this book in another post.
This book had its pros and cons. I am a great fan of classic literature. Some of my favorite books of all time are Victorian era British literature books like Dicken’s David Copperfield, and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Villette. I have even enjoyed other books by George Eliot, such as Daniel Deronda. And while I did greatly enjoy and appreciate the thematic content of this novel, I was not as great a fan of the writing itself. Some of the writing techniques employed by Eliot in this story took away from the narrative rather than adding to it. There is an entire chapter in the book about arguments at the town tavern that takes up time and space right at one of the most interesting points of the story. The story also ends before the novel does. The last chapter is barely useful. That being said, this novel was still worth the read becomes of the deep thematic content.
So, what was the last classic you read? Do you like classics, or are they too archaic for you? What do you think about religion in books? Feel free to comment below to answer any of these questions.