Daniel Deronda

ISBN: 037576013X
ISBN 13: 9780375760136
By: George Eliot Edmund White

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About this book

George Eliot’s final novel and her most ambitious work, Daniel Deronda contrasts the moral laxity of the British aristocracy with the dedicated fervor of Jewish nationalists. Crushed by a loveless marriage to the cruel and arrogant Grandcourt, Gwendolen Harleth seeks salvation in the deeply spiritual and altruistic Daniel Deronda. But Deronda, profoundly affected by the discovery of his Jewish ancestry, is ultimately too committed to his own cultural awakening to save Gwendolen from despair. This Modern Library Paperback Classic is set from the 1878 Cabinet Edition.

Reader's Thoughts

V.r. Christensen

Daniel Deronda is perhaps my favourite book of all time. When I first read it, I wasn't sure what I thought of it. Elliot weaves the tale, as she designed to do, so that the reader is not quite certain of his loyalties. We root for Daniel, of course, but which of the women in his life do we wish for him to choose? In the end, of course, he chooses the more deserving of the two. And yet, do we not find ourselves rooting for that which society, in that day and age, would have chosen for him? Are we disappointed, or are we not? It all depends on with whom we identify, and sometimes that question cannot be honestly answered until we've stepped away from it far enough to see the big picture. And it is a very big picture.Eliot, having written the book as a contemporary to the Zionist movement, was perhaps a visionary in her approach to its causes and in her method if introducing them to the reading public. The work was highly influential to many, and to society at large regarding their view of their Jewish neighbours. More than that, though, it challenged society's views of Christianity, of what it means to be a gentleman and where one's loyalties ought, after all, to lie. Daniel's benefactor, the man, indeed, who raised him, was a good man, but he failed Daniel in many respects. To satiate his need for a home and family ties with whom he could truly identify, Daniel had to make these himself, breaking off from the tradition that had been set before him. "So you do not want to be an English gentleman to the backbone," Sir Hugo says to him. Yes, of course Daniel does, but must he do it and be a Christian without Christian feeling? Be a father without fatherly affection? Be a husband who is a stranger to his wife?Daniel Deronda is and was a Trojan horse of conscientious thought. It reads as a book written for the well bred and socially minded of the upper classes. It is, in fact, a challenge to think beyond what one thinks they believe, to ask the uncomfortable question, "Am I living the best life that is in me?" Daniel's mother asked the question and answered it selfishly. Sir Hugo asked the question and lived his life according to duty and tradition. Grandcourt asked the question and left behind him a mess of misuse, bastardry and subjugation. Daniel asked the question and chose a life that would benefit all around him. Daniel Deronda is an astounding accomplishment and I find it a constant source of inspiration, both in my life, and in my work.


What is so curious about this book is the opposing narratives between Gwendolyn and Daniel. It is like a book sliced in half between its Gwendolyn's Gothic elements and Daniel's "new" quest. So cut in half is the narrative, that in Israel the book is only published with Daniel's chapters. No one notices? or no one cares? Strange it is also as a work of Victorian literature centering around Jews. Usually the usurperous shopkeeper or the evil begger, Jews are suddenly people who are just trying to get by in London. Previously having written against Jews early in her career, Eliot did a complete 180 by the end of it. She's also seemed to have mastered the elements of Kabbalah and mysticism, giving authenticity to Mordecai's speech and the legacy he passes on to Daniel. Poor Gwendolyn. The sensitive, well-read man in her life decided to be a proto-Zionist.


George Eliot a Zionist? That's more than surprising: it's almost as amazing as the fact that she seems to have come to her Zionism by way of the Kabbalah. Like Eliot's earlier novels, this, her last work of fiction, is filled with gentle yet sharply ironic observations and a sublimely lofty sense of the potential of extraordinary individuals. The moral education of an egotistical English beauty runs parallel with the self-discovery of an English gentleman who serves as her spiritual lodestar, particularly during her brief but hideous marriage. Most if not all plot twists were spoiled for me by reading the introduction, but anyone who tackles the novel divines from the moment the first Jewish character is introduced that Mr. Deronda will ultimately find both true love and his place in the world (and this is not meant metaphorically) when he discovers his Jewish birthright. One does read this book to learn what becomes of the characters, but what makes it so intensely rewarding is the wealth of Eliot's intellect. In its day, this novel was considered as much essay as story, though at the time that was attributed as a fault. Eliot's sense of Jewish destiny seems strikingly prescient, while her idealistic belief in the ultimate good that would result elicits a sigh. This is a long novel. It demands total attention. But you won't be able to read the entire thing without becoming, however briefly, a better person.


George Eliot's last novel does not quite ring true to me. Was she being too ambitious with her mix of characters and themes? It just does not seem to all work together. I plan to watch the BBC Andrew Davies video next to see what he makes of it.I liked it quite a bit more after my second reading.


Nope, it's not Middlemarch. Its scope is less vast, the characters aren't quite as three-dimensional, and the ending is a little less emotionally satisfying. But in all other regards, Daniel Deronda is a great novel, one of the best nineteenth-century English literature in general and George Eliot in particular have to offer.The title of the book notwithstanding, the main character of Daniel Deronda is Gwendolen Harleth, a young, beautiful and manipulative young woman who is forced by circumstances to marry the terrifying Henleigh Grandcourt, who is probably the one person on earth she cannot dominate. Tragedy ensues as the shallow and self-centred Gwendolen must confront her fate and the knowledge that the one person she actually admires, the eponymous hero Daniel Deronda, is less interested in her than in a poor singer called Mirah Lapidoth. So far, so generic nineteenth-century romance, but Eliot wouldn't be Eliot if she didn't add a whole lot of intellectual and cultural background. See, Mirah is Jewish, and the more Daniel digs into her background, the more he feels himself attracted to Judaism. And so the stage is set for a brilliant comparison of the staid English upper class and the oh so vibrant Jews, some of whom are in the thrall of the Zionist movement. Initially, the tone of the book is somewhat anti-Semitic, but the second half almost reads like an ode to Judaism. Eliot obviously researched her subject well and freely drops names which won't mean much to twenty-first-century readers, and probably didn't mean much to non-Jewish nineteenth-century readers, either. At times, the cultural and historical references and grand idealism get a bit tedious, but even so you've got to admire the scholarship that went into the writing of Daniel Deronda, and the audacity of making some of the most likeable people in the book Jewish (hardly an obvious choice for a Victorian author). Eliot (who said some harsh things about Jews in the earlier part of her career and was obviously eager to make amends) was clearly determined to do her subject justice, and boy, did she ever. Yet I have to say it's not the Jewish aspect of the book which has stayed with me. Rather it's Eliot's extraordinary portrayal of Gwendolen, who may well be her greatest tragic heroine. Sure, Gwen is flawed (very much so), but there is something fascinating about her personality and the tragic journey she has to make. No doubt some readers hate her with a vengeance, but I, personally, was riveted by the acute psychological insight with which Eliot analyses her heroine, some of whose less admirable traits I'm afraid I share. Likewise, Gwendolen's detestable husband Grandcourt is a formidable and endlessly fascinating character. By contrast, the much more likeable Daniel and Mirah are somewhat boring, but aren't the goodies always less interesting than the baddies?I wouldn't recommend Daniel Deronda to a first-time Eliot reader (I'd suggest Middlemarch or The Mill on the Floss instead), but those who know they can deal with Eliot's wordiness and fiercesome intellect will find this a very rewarding psychological and cultural novel. It's rich stuff, and then some.


** spoiler alert ** Daniel Deronda is a powerful novel which carries an amazing message. It is also heartbreaking. Gwendolyn's spoiled but naive character changes throughout the novel in a way that makes you feel for her a lot at the end. Mira's longing to find her mother and her brother connects magically to Daniel's desires and brings them together in a moving ending. Ezra's dream of Israel made a huge political statement, a famous popular author writing a novel about the Jewish dream for Israel angered many anti-semites who wanted her to stick to romance and the Gwendolyn story. Ezra's story was the most touching part of the book and when Gwendolyn decides to live you feel that the message the book tells is to find your path and follow it to the end. As Daniel, Gwendolyn, and Mira move through their lives we walk with them and hope their path will be quick and safe.


Discussion is being held at the Victorians group. This is the story of Daniel Deronda and his search for his true identify. In this book Eliot show her best of style of writing: in the first two chapters, in a flashback point of view, Deronda met Gwendolyn at a Casino but she is forced to go home due to financial duties with her family. Apparently, a romantic relationship is established between these characters. However, as the plot develops, one learns the true story of Daniel Deronda and his search for his true identity. In the meantime, Gwen accepted the marriage proposal made by Lord Grandcourt thus avoiding her probably future as a simple Governess.Then Eliot introduces a Jewish component into the plot: Daniel met Mirah who is trying to find her own mother and brother and then we have the feeling of Daniel's Jewish parentage. Eliot describes in a very sensitive way in which Jews were perceived during this Victorian period.There is other turmoil into the story but I prefer to avoid spoilers here.I haven't read all the books by George Eliot but it seems to be Daniel Deronda is her masterpiece work as a writer. Now, I must read Adam Bede, Silas Marner and Romola in order to get a true vision of her whole work.


This was my second time reading Daniel Deronda, and it turned out to be exactly the right time to revisit it. Ever since finishing it I can't seem to read other fiction. What can possibly be the right thing to come after George Eliot's final novel?If The Mill on the Floss is Eliot's most autobiographical novel, I think Daniel Deronda might be the one in which her talents as a writer are most clearly reflected in her characters. For me one of the defining features of Eliot's work is her unfailing compassion for girls and young women, which is a quality Daniel shares. His compassion, and Eliot's, extends even to Gwendolen Harleth, who, spoiled and narrow as she is, has as great a capacity for suffering as Eliot's nobler characters. Maybe greater, since her narrowness only makes her more helpless in the face of her problems. She doesn't have the habit of cultivating intellectual or moral sources of internal support.Gwendolen is an easy character to dislike, especially at the beginning, but I think her selfishness isn't what's interesting about her, and it's only one piece of her fundamental problem. The other, more interesting piece, is that within Gwendolen's society the only respectable career for a woman is to make a good marriage, and she doesn't want to be married. She craves admiration and fears shame so much that she can barely admit her lack of desire for marriage, even to herself, but she objects "with a sort of physical repulsion" to men directly stating their love for her. In addition to his wealth and social position, what makes Grandcourt her most acceptable suitor is his willingness to refrain from too-direct appeals to her affection. After the wedding, though, Gwendolen's feeling of repulsion seems to be back in full force, and by that time she's stuck with him. Poor Gwendolen gets everything wrong, being at first too interested in unserious attentions from men to live up to the ideal of womanhood, and ultimately not interested enough in the duties of being a wife to find any consolation in attempting to fulfill them. It's amazing what a blank Grandcourt becomes in her consciousness immediately after their marriage. It's like he's something that happens to her, not a person she can relate to on any level. And I can't blame her for that. Her early expectation of getting everything she wants is unreasonable, but so is the outcome in which she gets nothing that she wants, and plenty that she doesn't want.Gwendolen's foil in her own mind, and probably in Daniel's, is Mirah, who remains a problem for me. It feels like she doesn't quite belong in a George Eliot novel, like maybe she wandered in by mistake from some nearby Dickens novel. Unlike Gwendolen, Mirah does match the ideal of womanhood in nearly every way, which somehow seems unfair of her. Nobody should be that perfect all the time -- a feeling Eliot herself seems to recognize in Gwendolen's comment, "I have no sympathy with women who are always doing right. I don't believe in their great sufferings."The issues I have with Mirah, though, are more than counterbalanced by the chapters containing Princess Leonora Halm-Eberstein, who is one of those characters seeming to stand slightly outside of the world everyone else in the novel inhabits, posing a useful challenge to all expectations of who or what a woman should be: "People talk of their motives in a cut and dried way. Every woman is supposed to have the same set of motives, or else to be a monster. I am not a monster, but I have not felt exactly what other women feel--or say they feel, for fear of being thought unlike others."Taking Daniel as the protagonist, it would be easy to read the choice he makes as a rejection of the Princess's position and a moral judgment about what is valuable in a woman, or to see the novel's women as symbols of the differing lifestyles available to him. But I think that would be wrong. Instead, for me, Gwendolen is the main protagonist, and Daniel's choice is an important step in her development into a full and independent person, as well as in his. I love those moments in George Eliot novels when a character's blinders suddenly fall away, and the world seems wider than it used to and, if they're lucky, there's time for growth.


Another novel it feels absurd to rate with stars.What an exhilarating and delicious experience. The novel wasn't new to me, but it's been over 20 years since I last read it. How wonderful to be reintroduced to the complexities of Gwendolyn Harleth, the delicately tuned sadism of Henleigh Grandcourt, the benevolent conventionality of Sir Hugo Mallinger, the yearnings of Daniel Deronda. George Eliot allows everyone his or her humanity--even Grandcourt. I revere her for creating some of he most nuanced and robust characters in English literature--not just here but also in Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch, and Silas Marner.Oh, yeah, plot. Gwendolyn Harleth is a beautiful young women who is used to commanding the worshipful attention and obeisance of all around her. She suddenly finds herself penniless, and in spite of her reservations (and also an unsavory secret she knows), she marries the wealthy Henleigh Grandcourt, who proceeds to show her that he can go her one better in the arts of mastery. In the meantime, Daniel Deronda, an orphan raised to be a gentleman by Grandcourt's uncle, Sir Hugo Mallinger, rescues a young Jewish woman who is trying to drown herself in the Thames, and through her comes to solve the mystery of his own parentage. The themes of Jewish assimilation and separateness are just as pertinent today as in the 1870s, when Daniel Deronda was written.As described above, Daniel Deronda may sound like just another big English novel, full of Sir So-and-Sos and money issues and orphans. But it's not just another English novel, even apart from the unusual Jewish thread. It's a whole world: above all the world of the human mind and heart.


Of note: for someone who's my favorite author, I haven't 5-starred a George Eliot book since the first one that I read. Tough crowd, I guess. But tough books, too. And while I'll possibly never love anything as much as The Mill on the Floss, this book did incredible things and opened up dozens of doors in my mind.What made it most incredible to me was the thematic currents that kept coming in doubles. I started keeping a list too late to remember everything I felt was there, but so many things in the book silently depend on each other, and are left for comparison without being presented explicitly. It all looked intentional to me, because every reminder of something that had come before (usually on the other side of the novel) tightened the cord around it and made me gasp. It was an ideas book more than a feelings book, to me. Some of these repeating ideas: (view spoiler)[* The subjection of marriage: Gwendolen wishes she didn't have to marry because she sees all women made inferior by it (but she fails to escape the same), Daniel's mother's speech is about her victory over same being the focal purpose of her life (but exemplifies the "monstrosity" of what that sacrifices).* Legitimacy and the manipulation of inheritance: Grandcourt's and Gwendolen's responses to the claim of his children and his will, and Daniel being presumed to be Hugo's natural heir but having to cede his claim to Grandcourt. Daniel's mother removed him from his Jewish inheritance, but he becomes Mordecai's spiritual heir in the end.* Acting/singing/performance and renown: Daniel's mother treasured her celebrated career above all, Mirah failed at the same one but remains beloved, Gwendolen relied on this kind of performance to appear perfect (though she is only valued for it artificially), and Daniel is unashamed of his own "mediocrity".*Gwendolen empowers keys over the things she existentially fears: the strangely grotesque painting in the drawing room at Offendene that she locks up (until the key is stolen and it's exposed), and the dagger she keeps locked away behind a key she drops in the ocean to escape her murderous thoughts.* Gwendolen's various gambles and the lesson of other people's losses. (hide spoiler)]Those are all five stars, right there.I did a very elementary bit of critical reading after I finished. Mostly I was spurred to by the totally unsatisfactory Introduction, which is pretty much RIYL other George Eliot books. However, it did point me to a jaw-droppingly weird blip of literary history in which Henry James reviews the book via fictional dialogue in The Atlantic Monthly in 1876. It's frankly crazy. And though, mainly, those "characters" compliment the book, what "they" really seem to need to say is, WTF did she have to write about Jews for?, in the most acceptably impolite ways possible. (There's talk of noses, and dirtiness. A horrible, valuable picture of what Eliot's audience actually was.)I was astonished to find, though, that apparently this is still what most critics feel about the book (at least, if I'm to believe the Introduction, which must be something of an endorsed opinion). Scholars still think this Jewish plot is uncomfortable, for one reason or another: because it's just plain weird, or because even the most conscientious Victorians were not 21st-century politically-correct so it doesn't seem very "right" now, or because they just like Gwendolen's plot better. There is, in fact, a whole argument that the book as is is a mistake, and Gwendolen's story standing alone would be a better novel.WHAT ARE THEY, STUPID?!*(* Would you like to read a whole article of speculation about Daniel's penis? What? It's not stupid, IT'S SCHOLARLY!)But, so, in this novel there's Daniel's story and there's Gwendolen's story, and then there's their story together. Gwendolen is a selfish creature who gets punished enormously with a transformative, tormenting marriage. Daniel has neither a future nor history of his own, and rescues/reunites/becomes the savior (?) of a pair of Jewish siblings instead. He also, by accident, becomes Gwendolen's confidant as she searches for a moral compass for the first time in her life. He is it.To begin with, this third portion of the story would be all but meaningless if Daniel's own portion didn't exist, and it is here that the book's most significant meaning comes from. Another author could have written this book, but instead of what happens here, Gwendolen would simply have fallen in love with Daniel once her marriage is unhappy, because that's what happens in novels. Here, Eliot does something completely unique (as always!) by instead giving them a strangely urgent ethical connection: the woman so horrified by submission becomes unable to do anything, anything at all, without asking Daniel's directions, worrying about Daniel's opinion, or repeating Daniel's advice like a mantra. Is this because she loves him? Maybe! But it doesn't matter at all. The sheer tonnage of her need for him is heaped only on her monumental effort to cope with doing harm, and she clings to him as a spiritual guide like a drowning person who almost drowns the person saving her.People also seem to think that Deronda is not much of a character -- that he's too good, he's unflawed, a boring vessel for enlightenment. He does represent these things thematically, but as an individual, I guess these readers skipped the days where Daniel judges people ungenerously (and anti-semitically), keeps information from his friends, becomes super resentful of the way others think, and wishes dearly for Gwendolen to leave him alone. He is not always right when he does these things, but he is always understandable. We have sympathy for him the whole time, and in the large view he is indeed a marvelous person. That doesn't make a bad character at all, and most importantly, Eliot makes his marvelous nature the main currency of all the stories in the book. He does hold the novel together and (like Gwendolen) it is better for knowing him.As far as Gwendolen is concerned, I often think it's a shame that as an upstanding (though comparatively sexually-liberated) Victorian, Eliot is unable to write about sex in her novels. I believe she often had it in mind, but with writing about it being so out of the question, who knows. Of the four novels I've read, though, three (and really I just don't remember Romola well enough to count it) have arcs that are supremely relevant to sexual circumstances between the characters. And it isn't like, Elizabeth and Darcy are super hot for each other, I bet they were happy to have sex. In Eliot it's serious heart-punches, like: these people ran away together in order to have sex but can't do it and this is their downfall; these people got married but he might not have any sex with her at all and this is their downfall; and in this book, Grandcourt makes such a project of total dominance in his marriage to Gwendolen, it must have been the ugliest wedding night ever and I almost want to cry thinking about it. (The this-century BBC movie hints at unwilling sex in this way, but it of course is not referenced in the text.) These sexual situations matter deeply, though existing barely even in subtext, and as soon as the Grandcourts' marriage became about power and breaking each other's will, it's what I thought of. It is a pretty unsexy sex plot, but I really think it is one. Gwendolen's misery is made apparent, but I think there is a whole other horror show here that we don't even see.The subject of Jewish people does stand out in the book. What other book is like this? It's a truly unusual choice for a novel at this time. And, I've been trying to read some things to indicate the range of opinions about Jews that George Eliot put forward herself at various times. It was not always good (1848). Though by the time she wrote this, she was reaching for something good (1876). And this reach is what makes it a George Eliot novel: this is her one big cosmopolitan work that depicts the world she lived in as an adult, the learned upper class that led cranky, fractured lives in the country and in town and abroad. How did she choose to write about this? By turning her "gentle" characters upside-down inside prejudice, regret, and subjection. It makes the novel big like the world, and it stuns you into paying attention.While I looked up sources for Eliot's views on Judaism, I also looked for some criticism of the book that touched on Benjamin Disraeli, and only found a little. But the connection was pointed out to me and now seems really important, though I only know a few things about him: he was Prime Minister when the book was published, he was born in a Jewish family but raised Anglican, and he was a novelist as well. Did he and George Eliot know each other? Were they friends or rivals? What did she think of his politics, and did she model Daniel's ambitions to greatly serve the world after him? The novel was (intentionally or not?) seen as inspiration/propaganda for Zionists of both the Christian and Jewish kind, and this troublesome, impenetrable essay (?) in Impressions of Theophrastus Such (Eliot's final book which I don't quite understand what it is?) is on the subject of cultural homelands. There are streets in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa named after her! BECAUSE OF DANIEL DERONDA. THAT'S CRAZY! And, in my opinion, is proof that this theme is not meaningless.There are some troubles. There is some racism, try though she does. Mirah is overcompensation for this, though once she stops getting rescued she finally sounds like a real person and not a simply-sweet Dickens character. I never really loved Gwendolen, although her development is strong and passionate and unflawed except maybe (view spoiler)[that I didn't really believe she was harboring murderous wishes, and was put off when she confessed to having them (hide spoiler)]. That was also a little melodramatic, I guess, since the end events are strong enough. They always are. (And jiminy cricket do not get in one of George Eliot's little boats 3/4 through the book! Crazy shit ensues, every time! Oh, but I love it.)I also think there's a loose end in not hearing Mrs. Glasher's response to the end events. If I were an editor I might have suggested that she and Gwendolen needed to connect one more time. It might not have made things any better for Gwendolen, but a change in the situation undeniably occurred. How did it leave them?Weirdly, at the end I actually wished that this book had a sequel. Then I read a little more about it (this great review in particular) and learned that this HAPPENED. This 1878 version of fanfiction was published as a sequel to "remedy" its "chief defect," which apparently means the Jews. So, instead of editing an abridged version to accomplish this, we just have a ret-conning follow-up novel. … I am so perplexed, I think I am actually going to read it someday. (The reviewer also mentions a Jewish adaptation by the contemporary children's author Marcus Lehman, which may be this one? But I haven't found a lot to confirm it.)Anyway, perhaps I wish that this book was simply 1200 pages long instead of 600. I might not have minded, because in the end Daniel and Gwendolen go to such places finally that their lives are wholly beginning again. I think that ending is unlike any of Eliot's others, and I wish she could have had all of time to tell us what she thought.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>


Although not George Eliot's best work, Daniel Deronda is still worth reading. Eliot's attempt to explore Jewish mysticism is difficult to muddle through, even with copious footnotes. Her portrayal of Gwendolyn is far more compelling and complex than that of the saintly Deronda or the overly simplified Mirah. Frankly, I found myself wondering most at Gwendolyn's reliance on Deronda. She was a more interesting character when she was hopelessly flawed.


This is one of my favorite books. George Eliot probably has to be one of the best authors that I have ever read. Her psychological insight into each character is so amazing and her analysis of human nature is quite profound. Gwendolen Harleth, much as you despise her, is very vividly portrayed and there is an interesting reality in all of her words and actions. She is a revealing character and, though most people do not have her outright selfishness, yet I think most could relate to some of her characteristics to a greater or lesser degree. Daniel Deronda, on the other hand, though he is sometimes considered "too perfect" is actually another very well done character. His compassion and kindness are balanced hand by his indecisive, rather vacillating nature throughout the book. The plot is interesting and has several twists to it. I love this book and was sorry to be finished with it and look forward to reading it again.


Daniel Deronda is the rare male protagonist who is self-aware, mature, and searching. He's probably the most admirable male character I've read in a novel. But Eliot doesn't just write about saints; a lead female character, for example, undergoes a brilliantly described, painful learning curve as she comes becomes acquainted with Daniel and comes to understand that his motives are far superior to hers.


Another book I know I read in college - I even wrote a paper on it - yet my memory of it is hazy at best. But since Middlemarch remains probably my favorite book, I thought I'd give Eliot's final novel and treatise on Judaism another try. Again, I find it much more compelling now. Eliot is just SO DEEP! Her books take those central principles of Austen (see above catalogue of my recent reading, nonexistent reader) - by which I mean, the immovable facts of wealth and birth and beauty and wit except for that brief, fluid period of matrimonial musical chairs; the only time, as far as I can see, that women had any opportunity of changing their birth status and situations (which, incidentally, has given me new insight into the difference between the English class system and our American ideas of mutability) - and adds about 900 pages of depth and insight and, yes, some heavy Christian symbolism stuff. There are no Casaubons in here - that is, I think Eliot loves all her characters in this book, even those flawed. Except maybe Lush. Maybe the lesson here is that I shouldn't have taken a 10:10 class when I was 21. Or maybe college is wasted on the young. I'm not done yet but this is a great, great book.


I found this book to be a fascinating portrayal of the Industrial Age in England and the emergence of the Zionist movement. A thought-provoking novel that provides a clear insight into an unusual era.

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