Saturday, November 6, 2010

Felix Holt by George Eliot

One last George Eliot book in the box: Felix Holt.  This book has political angle - not my cup of tea as my political interest is limited to what I read in my weekly Maclean's magazine - that got me a bit bogged down at times, and encouraged a bit of skimming here and there as there on some passages containing meditation on Radical politics in England in the 1860's and 70's. 

In terms of critical reviews, this is the least popular of Eliot's books, and oddly, some of the criticism hits on exactly the things that I LIKED about this book!  First of all, it has a Sherri-approved happy ending  :-)  Also, Felix is called a "radical" and his competitor (in love and politics) , Harold Transome heir to Transome Court, is running on the Radical ticket, yet these men are both essential conservative in their thought and action.  Some critics say this is a failing in Eliot's book... her "radical" characters are poorly written, but I think this irony is deliberate, and adds to the richness of the novel: all of us claim titles for ourselves that don't really fit.  We see this contradiction in Felix, and Harold, and also in Esther, who is the socially amibitious daughter of a poor preacher - and who isn't really who she says she is either (and who is the first truly likable female lead - not sickeningly sweet or maddeningly foolish.)  Again - George Eliot essentially writes a character study... and this book contains some of her more interesting characters. 

Anyone have a copy of Silas Marner handy?  I think it's time to re-read that book.  :-)

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