Comments on Silas Marner

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss George Eliot's novel Silas Marner.

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  • Jane - George Eliot - a certain irony

    My perspective is, unavoidably, in relative terms. An irony has occurred to me - (possibly of a somewhat middle-class orientation). The high calibre writings of George Eliot along with others have themselves become 'the opiate of the people'. They speak of the unsatisfactory (or idealized) nature of things and we can be carried along by them in a particular state of agreement and solidarity. There's also a certain relief or pleasure for the reader in becoming 'vicarious' or 'transported' for a while. The phrase 'preaching to the converted' sadly comes to mind in terms of the social or moral impact of the writings. In daily life, we can hold opinions and be partisan to what we choose but it's evident that we are still, fundamentally, the same little cogs swept along in the great big wheels. We - the masses - are allowed speech (within tacitly understood parameters) but not power. The translated words of Marx are: 'Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opiate of the people' Well subsequently, this could surely read: 'Our stories are the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. They are also an opiate of the people.' Obviously and incrementally, these writers have been joined (or rather, overtaken) by the plethora of stuff which, on a scale of diminishing merit, is on offer to 'get people through'. (I won't start on the subject of who benefits most!) The problem here is that much of it drags people lower and compounds the heartless, soulless conditions which Marx referred to. Best wishes - Jane ps In relation to the assumed role(s) and nature of religion, 'The world would be a better place without religion' versus 'The world would be a worse place without religion' would be an interesting debate...but only if deep insight and sharp veracity replaced the usual waffle the subject evokes. The 'nature of the beast' together with its conditioning make this a heated subject....any perspective is, unavoidably, in relative terms. Best wishes... and thanks to IOT for its constant upward pull.

  • Michael Wolfe: Silas Marner

    The program, in discussing money, did not mention the fact that, in Eliot's 1820's England, a weaver could earn a good income, enough to produce a large amount of gold. This is diametrically opposed to Marxism, where the worker is limited to a subsistence wage.Also missed was that, in Silas Marner, the condemnation of religion was limited to nonconformists and their 'superstitions.' The Church of England was portrayed favourably.[Finally, in the US, Silas Marner was dropped from the required reading list for most schools, so his ' ' ' "water, water, everywhere" will no longer be warping the boards of the English department.'To which the New Yorker responded,'It's the Ancient Silas Marner, and he warpeth one of three boards.']

  • Janice Lyons: Glencoe; Silas Marner

    janiceThere is a great deal of complaint about the present tense being used. I'd just like to say it must be good because everyone loves the programmes as they develop. And I must confess I haven't even noticed the 'wrong' tense. One becomes accustomed to the immediacy of the present tense. It brings a story to life.

  • Silas Marner

    Interesting discussion.I wondered on what basis you choose single novels to speak about.In terms of Ulysses and InSearch of Lost Time,they are the major works of those novelists(Joyce,Proust)and have claim to being the greatest novels of their time.Why did you choose this particular work of Eliot'srather than Daniel Deronda or Felix Holt?And is this novel part of the series of 6 novels you said you willtalk about?

  • Dorob: Silas Marner

    I believe the 'how do you do' after the programme ( ref. newsletter)was the result of the contributers feeling under pressure to get through the planned agenda, and building up a head of steam containing facets they had wished to bring in. Oh to have broadcast of the greenroom 'discussions'!

  • jane - George Eliot - Silas Marner

    'To everything there is a season' came to mind whilst listening to this programme in that George Eliot seems to have written of a time and for a time. Must admit, the only bit of George Eliot I've read came on the front of a congratulations card after I'd given birth: 'We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it'. I thought it was so wonderfully stated and have run the words through my mind on many occasions. Sadly, times have changed and the magic which happens between child and nature is far less evident. Whether we like it or not, childhood is our neurological bedrock and what it contains does partly (if not largely) shape us. I realize that Melvyn had much to cover, but I would have appreciated more on 'loss and gain'. If we avoid euphemisms at one end and overcome bitterness or self pity at the other, loss and gain can reveal pivotal and sometimes, in commensurate terms, deeply profound territory. This will be my ponder for the week, as it's something I haven't fully considered... Thank you for a lovely programme. Best wishes. By the way, my partner, who's far better read than I am, called in as I was finishing this. He said he'd read some George Eliot so I asked him if he agreed that she was very much a product 'of her time'. What do you mean 'her time'? George Eliot was a man....I'm not sure which of us was the most incredulous!

  • Jenny Ann Hoare

    I very much enjoyed the discussion around George Elliott and Silas Marner. While listening, it struck me what a fascinating woman of her time she was. I wonder that no-one has thought to do a TV/Radio play or film, abbout her life. We have had Jane Austen portrayed ad nauseum and George Elliott is so much more interesting. Any chance?

  • Kevin Murray - Victorian novels

    I think a series on Victorian novels would be very well done, but it may lessen the breadth of IOT. What about the other half of the world? Specifically, when will IOT deal with the concept of the antipodes? There hangs many tales.

  • Chris re. "Silas Marner"

    Enjoyed the discussion but felt everyone went roundabout the text instead of into it. There was more about George Eliot than "Silas Marner". Would like to have heard someone actually quote from the printedpage and allow the text to speak for itself.


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