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07/11/21 • 84 min

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The Bible says something somewhere about children who are worth their weight in gold. Well, George Eliot’s Silas Marner (1861) explores what would happen if we took that proverb super literally! (Or figuratively? Mythically! That’s it. Or is this more of a fable? Wait, it’s a realist novel???) Silas Marner is about a linen weaver in the Midlands countryside whom the village folk assume is Gandalf (natch) and who adopts a daughter who mysteriously appears at his door. But, as with everything Eliot wrote, it’s also about, uh, everything -- industrialization, capital, parentage, class, religion and modernity, epistemology, and much much more.

We read the Oxford edition with notes and introduction by Juliette Atkinson. For an excellent discussion of how Silas Marner critiques materialist/financial forms of value, see Mary Poovey’s influential Genres of the Credit Economy: Mediating Value in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Britain. And for a landmark study of how the English novel was shaped by -- and critiqued -- the emergence of the capitalist market, as always, we recommend Deidre Shauna Lynch’s The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning.

*Note to our listeners -- Megan is off this episode. She’ll be back next week.

Find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @betterreadpod, and email us nice things at betterreadpodcast@gmail.com. Find Tristan on Twitter @tjschweiger, Katie @katiekrywo, and Megan @tuslersaurus.

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