Silas Marner eText - eText

This eText contains embedded glossary terms and other notes added by our community of educators. Simply mouseover or tap on the yellow highlighted words within the text to see the annotations.
Turn Off


What is a literary classic and why are these classic works important to the world?

A literary classic is a work of the highest excellence that has something important to say about life and/or the human condition and says it with great artistry. A classic, through its enduring presence, has withstood the test of time and is not bound by time, place, or customs. It speaks to us today as forcefully as it spoke to people one hundred or more years ago, and as forcefully as it will speak to people of future generations. For this reason, a classic is said to have universality.

George Eliot, a pseudonym for Mary Ann (Marian) Evans, was born in 1819. She chose to use a pseudonym to ensure that her writings were taken seriously. Even though there were many contemporary female writers, Eliot did not want to be known for writing romances, like the other female authors. In addition, Eliot was romantically involved with George Henry Lewes—a married man. She desired secrecy and wanted to keep her personal life as private as possible. Lewes died in 1880, and Eliot then married John Cross, an American.

As a child, Eliot attended boarding schools that were strictly evangelical. These strong Christian influences led Eliot to decide to live without organized religion, and despite her family's disapproval, she remained agnostic for the rest of her life.

George Eliot is renowned for being an extremely sympathetic Victorian author whose use of realism and irony show her brilliance. Her writing is eloquent and clear, and her characters are developed with compassion and vigilance. Among her other writings, Eliot is also known for Middlemarch, Adam Bede, and The Mill on the Floss; all of which incorporate childhood memories and her experiences with different aspects of religion. Silas Marner was specifically written to express her values as a mature adult, and to depict the beauty in relationships.

George Eliot lived an accomplished life, and her stories have endured throughout the ages and have become classics with modern readers. She died of kidney complications on December 22, 1880.