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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Silas Marner by George Eliot

George Eliot

Silas Marner
by George Eliot
published 1861

J.K. Rowling published Mugglemarch

  J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame has her first non-Potter novel out and it is called The Casual Vacancy.  Currently #1 among all books on  The book is already being called "Mugglemarch"(1) which is a reference to J.K. Rowlings authorship of the Harry Potter series and the resemblance of The Casual Vacancy to the work of George Eliot (Her biggest hit is Middlemarch.)

  I suppose the question is why an author as popular and wealthy as J.K. Rowling would write "in the style" of a George Eliot.  The answer is obviously that she wants to show that she is a serious novelist who appreciates the history of her art form. George Eliot is hugely popular among academics and critics, especially compared to her popularity among the Audience for, say, a Harry Potter book.

  But the simple fact is that an association between J.K. Rowling's first "serious" novel and George Eliot will increase Eliot's popularity with a larger Audience

  Silas Marner was Eliot's third novel.  Silas Marner is the name of the main character.  The subtitle of Silas Marner, "The Weaver of Raveloe" explains who Marner is.  Silas Marner is one of Eliot's three most popular works, having traded places with Middlemarch and Adam Bede for the distinction of "most popular George Eliot novel."  Silas Marner is the shortest of Eliot's books and also the most whimsical   Silas Marner takes place in the early 18th century and the plot revolves around stolen gold, an abandoned baby, and of course, an issue of legitimacy and inheritance. The biggest difference between Silas Marner and an actual 18th century novel is that Silas Marner(the character) is not a member of the aristocracy, but a working man. Eliot is better then her contemporaries like Elizabeth Gaskell and Anthony Trollope at depicting someone other then a wealthy, educated gentleman.

 There is so much to admire in Eliot's writing that it is easy to see why a Best Selling author would use her as an influence for a "serious" novel. Eliot was the first modern novelist, so who better?  If The Casual Vacancy gets people talking about George Eliot, good for everyone.


(1) New Yorker profile 10/1/12 called "MUGGLEMARCH" (NEW YORKER)
London Guardian article 9/26/12 called main page title for Rowling article, "IT'S MUGGLEMARCH" (LONDON GUARDIAN)
Financial Tiles book review 9/26/12, "Mugglemarch is Far From The Magic Crowd" (a dual reference to Eliot and Thomas Hardy, who wrote Far From The Maddening Crowd.

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