Flashback Time Machine: George Eliot


A few weeks ago, I got inspired to create a blog series I refer to as Flashback Time Machine, where I discuss a novel and author from the past, and come up with questions I would ask them in an interview, if ever I had the chance to do so.  Of course, these authors are not around anymore, but it’s still fun to think about.  Here is my second installment in my Flashback series.  I hope you enjoy!

One of my favorite novels is Silas Marner.  It is a classic, set in England, and holds a wonderful message.  Here is a brief synopsis:

Silas Marner is a weaver, and is very poor.  He turned into a recluse after being framed for a crime he did not commit, and moved to the town of Raveloe.  It is in Raveloe where Marners reclusive life takes a dramatic turn.

Being a weaver, Silas goes into the town periodically and takes in jobs of the townspeople.  He hides all of the money he earns under the floorboards of his very modest home.  One day, when he is out of his cottage, he slips into a trance-like state, at which time his money is stolen.  Beside himself, he runs into the town asking for help.  His money is all that he has in the world.  The townspeople are hesitant to help him, and Silas goes back to his home, alone.

One day, following another catatonic trance, Silas wakes to find a little girl has wandered into his home, and he is instantly taken by this little one.  He looks at it as a sign of better things to come when no one claims the child.  Silas goes on to raise the girl as his own, names her Eppie, and she brings Silas out of the solitary existence he has maintained for so long.

Things get really interesting in the story when, in an adjacent storyline, the squire’s son Godfrey and his wife are unable to have a child.  All of a sudden, it comes out that Godfrey is actually Eppie’s father!  He did not claim her as his own child because then it would come out that he had had the child with a drug addicted woman.  This would not be good for his family’s reputation.

Godfrey and his wife try and woo Eppie into wanting to live with them, saying that they could provide her with a wonderful home and a devoted family.  Godfrey’s wife forgives him for having a child with someone else.  Eppie, however, is a simple girl who fancies simple things, and in the end chooses to stay with Silas.

One of the reasons I love this story so much, is it’s message of hope.  Silas had just accepted the lot he was given, but the chance meeting of a little girl made all of the difference.  He had faith enough to believe that his life could change.

The author of Silas Marner, George Eliot, was a woman.  She penned this story and others under a man’s name so that her writing would be taken seriously.  Back in that time, female writers were published, but they were mostly known for writing romances.  Eliot’s birth name was Mary Ann Evans.

This got me thinking about the questions I might like to ask her, if I were able to today:

1.  As a female growing up in the 1800’s England, what were the expectations of your life?

2.  Did you find it difficult to have your work taken seriously, even after you had a male pen name?

3.  What advice might you have for the young girls of today regarding their futures?

4.  Do you consider yourself to be pioneering in any way for female writers?

Okay, everyone, weigh in!  Have you read Silas Marner?  What are your thoughts about it?  What would you like to know from Author George Eliot/Mary Ann Evans?

Flashback Time Machine: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I love all of the visits to my blog!  As you all know, I interview authors here on S. M. Nystoriak’s Writer’s Block.  The biggest reason I began this endeavor was because I admire writers.  I love the process of writing, I love to meet people, and I get immense energy learning about how other writers tackle their craft.  Recently, however, I thought about some of the writers that influenced me through the years, thanks to a fellow blogger and recent interviewee, Scott Southard.  I discovered that I am a fan of the classics.  What would I do if I could interview those authors here on my Writer’s Block?  Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, anyone?

  Bill and Ted

So, I thought it might be fun to prep some interview questions with those authors whose work meant a lot to me through my life.

I always strayed away from fiction in school.  I really enjoyed learning about things, but from a research standpoint.  But, when I got into high school, and my 9th grade teacher passed around her copies of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, I became engrossed.  Originally published in 1798, the overall tone of that poem spoke to me in a tremendous way.  Its messages about living life and accepting blessings, even when they appear to be anything but, still ring to me.  I came away from that work of art with an appreciation for the written word as I had never experienced before.  There is a Wiki article about the poem, here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rime_of_the_Ancient_Mariner

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

So, for my first interview with the past, I choose Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the author of the classic epic poem, The Rime of The Ancient Mariner.  Here goes…

Q:  I always imagined that the plotline for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was written as if it actually happened to someone, or possibly even a dream.  Tell me.  How did the idea for this tale come to you? 

Q:  This poem has some incredibly dark parts, when the albatross is dead and death seems to come at the ship form all sides, for example.  It is quite visual.  How did you come to conjure those creepy images?

Q:  Speaking of visual, are you an artist with paint or pencils?  The way that your words depict the boat, the sea, death, the Ancient Mariner himself, makes me wonder if you are also an artist.

Q:  So many of the lines from the Rime have become saying of modern day.  Could you have even imagined that would be the case back when you wrote it?

Q:  And musicians have done covers of this magnificent work.  In the 1980’s, the metal group Iron Maiden wrote music for it, and performed it with the complete text.  What do you think of that?

Q:  And about the rhyming lines.  Did you originally set out to write this work as a poem?  Or, did the words just present themselves that way?  As a musician, I have always had a fondness for the rhythm of the work.

If anyone is curious about the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and would like to read it, here is a link:  http://www.online-literature.com/coleridge/646/  I hope you enjoy it.

For those of you who know this work already, chime in.  What did you love about the Rime?  What would you want to know from the author?  Has anyone seen a telephone booth-time machine lately?