The Book: George Eliot, SILAS MARNER. Signet Classic paperback, 1960 (15th printing). Good condition; pages are yellow with age, book is lightly marked with underlining and notes. Owner's name ("Clair Lamb," with a flourish) written on front flyleaf.
First read: 1977
Owned since: 1977
Silas Marner, scourge of American middle-school students. We had to read it in seventh grade; I didn't understand why then, and I don't understand why now. It's short, but it's not easy reading for anyone, and the story -- of a miser who learns love from the golden-haired foundling, Eppie -- is nothing special, although that may be because it's become so entrenched in our collective subconscious.
It put me off George Eliot for almost 20 years, until Sue Schulz persuaded me to read Middlemarch (which I'll get to tomorrow). I'm not sure why I kept this book, except as part of my personal history. It was probably the first book I ever had to force myself to read, and the quizzes Mrs. Bortz gave us ("Who gave Silas his dinner the night he discovered his gold had been stolen?") required a much closer attention to detail than I'd have given the book otherwise.
Silas Marner, to put it in holiday terms, is the fruitcake of English literature -- except that I actually like fruitcake. Does anyone -- did anyone -- enjoy this book? If so, pipe up.
And a very happy birthday to my old friend Gary, who has every reason to look forward to the coming year with joy.
Five Random Songs
"Messiah: Part II, No. 44. Hallelujah," London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis & the Tenebrae Choir. Seriously, I didn't pick this; it's a recent download, and just popped up. But there's no beating it, especially at this time of year.
"Going Down," from the Hair soundtrack. How's this for random: we go from the Hallelujah chorus to a song that begins "Me and Lucifer, Lucifer and me."
"Noah's Dove," 10,000 Maniacs. Now I'm really wondering about this Shuffle function -- is it set to "religious references only" this morning?
"Half Life," Too Much Joy. Not explicitly religious -- except it kind of is. "You spend half your life remembering your life when you were young/Half your life dreaming how much better life could get/Well, every time you make a choice, hey, half your life is gone/All you've got's a few big dreams/Divided into many small regrets (like everybody else)."
"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," The Proclaimers. I was going to go 500 miles today, but have to postpone the drive for a couple of days. But I will be the girl who drives (almost) 1,000 miles to be with my family for Christmas...