Daniel Deronda, the last of Eliot's novels, is the most complete expression of her idealism. Its main concerns are those of personal morality, of dedication to tradition and roots, and of spiritual identification and sympathy--all set in an era of considerable national and international awareness. The text is that of the Clarendon Edition.
Daniel Deronda, raised by Gentiles, discovers the truth about his heritage and seeks his Jewish roots, finding that Judaism--and, particularly, Zionism--gives meaning to his life. Daniel's story intersects with that of the beautiful and spoiled Gwendolyn Harleth, who marries the jaded, depraved aristocrat Grandcourt and lives to repent her bad judgment. As the novel's moral center, Daniel provides a role model for Gwendolyn and, eventually, becomes a revered leader of the Zionist movement. DANIEL DERONDA, first published in 1876, is remarkable for its sympathetic and closely observed portrait of its Jewish characters--unusual in the Victorian period, when Jews were routinely vilified or caricatured in fiction. But it is also a deeply intelligent novel that explores two vastly different worlds with subtle acuity, whether the plot takes it to the ascetic study of a Jewish scholar or to the casinos where Gwendolyn routinely gambles away her money. The main characters' two remarkable journeys--Daniel's back to the religion of his people, and Gwendolyn's from selfishness to wisdom--are parallel quests toward what is always Eliot's true subject: the progress of the mind and the heart toward self-discovery, a preoccupation that was more characteristic of modernist fiction than of the novels being written in the mid-19th century.
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- April 15, 2009
- April 15, 2009
- George Eliot