A shadowy conception of power that by much persuasion can be induced to refrain from inflicting harm, is the shape most easily taken by the sense of the Invisible

Category: Writing & Reading | Type: Discussion | Title: Silas Marner (in Context) | Author: George Eliot | Vol: PART ONE | Ch: CHAPTER I

Eliot approaches Raveloe as a cultural anthropolgist would and combines the roles of historian and novelist in the manner of her favorite, Sir Walter Scott. Scott and Eliot were so exacting in their recreation of the past that we might call their genre the anthro-historical novel. In their work the culture rivals in importance the characters and events and often drives both.

Adam Bede, her first novel, was instantly famous for its highly detailed, realistic portrayal of rural interaction and speech, and Eliot argues in a review essay (see the introductory annotation) that novelists must do far more to capture the realities of the lives of the poor. Some Victorian novelists saw as part of their purpose the introduction of their readers to aspects of the society known to them only as abstractions. Dickens, at times acting as an investigative reporter, revealed the the parts of London into which his readers would not venture; Mrs. Gaskell focused in two of her novels, Mary Barton and North and South, on factories and factory life in the Midlands; George Eliot revived the customs, ways of thinking, and mores of a vanished English country life. 

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