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Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
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Daniel Deronda (original 1876; edition 1979)

by George Eliot

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,274252,811 (3.92)1 / 159
Member:KayCliff
Title:Daniel Deronda
Authors:George Eliot
Info:Signet Classics (1979), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:novel, Jews, kindle

Work details

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot (1876)

  1. 50
    The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (ncgraham)
    ncgraham: Surprised this recommendation hasn't already been made ... scholars throughout the years have noted Gwendolen Harleth's influence upon James in creating Isabel Archer.
  2. 20
    The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton (davidcla)
    davidcla: Wharton's 1913 novel is excellent, and very interesting to read as a companion to George Eliot's Daniel Deronda. Wharton's Undine casts Eliot's Gwendolen in a new light. And vice versa.
  3. 00
    Harrington by Maria Edgeworth (nessreader)
  4. 01
    Ulysses by James Joyce (kara.shamy)
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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Wonderful book by one of my favorite authors. It is the only one she wrote that occurs during her contemporary times and deals with antisemitism in English Victorian society. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
I ended up liking the book more than I thought I would. Gwendolen Harleth is really a fantastic character, and Eliot has a superb mastery of the consciousness of people from many different backgrounds. A word to the wise: parsing through the language is a little like trying to kill yourself with a feather. ( )
  fitakyre | Mar 13, 2014 |
It would be superfluous for me to repeat the many excellent reviews given already. Here are my thoughts on finally completing this long and may I say,difficult work.
Daniel Deronda himself I found self-satisfied and something of a prig.His treatment of Gwendolen at the end was nothing more than disgraceful and could well have led to her committing suicide. Gwendolen Harleth is for the most part a most annoying person. She is a spoilt and pampered creature with few good points except a deep love for her mother. The real villain is Henleigh Mallenger Grandcourt whom Gwendolen feels forced to marry due to the fact that he is rich and her family has lost their own money.This turns out to be a regrettable decision as Grandcourt is also cruel and cold to a remarkable degree.
Deronda himself saves a young girl from drowning herself (his only true act of goodness it seems to me) She turns out to be a Jewess called Mirah who is the only main character in the book with whom one can truly empathise. She has a brother,Mordecai,who to be frank,must be one of the most boring person ever written about. He goes on and on for pages and pages about the Jewish religion until you want to hit him.
As I have said about other books,the reader must be able to sympathise with at least some of the main characters and in this cast one just cannot. All power to George Eliot for writing this complicated and detailed story which runs in my edition to over 800 pages. I'm glad I've read it,but unlike some of her other books,I won't be returning to it. ( )
  devenish | Aug 28, 2013 |
The richness of Eliot's approach to presenting a story is her dedication to presenting the thinking of the characters, and telling much of their early lives, the "backstory" of the action that is being presented. To a modern reader, this can seem excessive. If you have patience for it, the nuance provided can enhance the beauty of the story for you. I listened to this book as an audiobook. When I'm listening to a book, I am more patient for this kind of thing.

Daniel Deronda begins much like a Jane Austen novel of manners, but has much darker moments than Austen's books usually have. Such elements are more reminicent of Dickens or one of the Brontes.

I learned much from the logical connections between the flaws in the parenting that the two main characters had and the crises that define their adult lives.

I like Eliot's books because of the portrait she paints of the social context, bringing out through the dillemas faced by a variety of characters the absurdities and opportunities provided in English society of that era. I also like the dialogue: at times witty, at times very serious with much attention to precision of diction, at times piquante and humourous.

Other reviewers have highlighted the exploration of Zionism made by Daniel. I did not find that this was the theme of the book, or even a prolonged focus. Two quite distinct communities are characterized: the English aristocratic set and the London Jewish community. The two communities are drawn with the same objectivity and balance, showing virtues, villainies, and absurdities in both. This balance was rare at the time, and continues to be rare today. For me, the theme of the book is the development of identity, and the role of parenting, social position, community membership and nationality in that development.

The book does not preach Zionism. It shows how Daniel Deronda became inspired by it. In our world's current confusion over the war in Israel-Palestine, it is interesting to see how a critical, compassionate mind could come to be so inspired. It is interesting to note that Daniel's first plan is to go to "the East" ( i.e., Palestine) and observe conditions there, to learn more about the current reality. He does not give up his critical conscience when he decides to take up the Zionist project. This happens at the conclusion of the book, so we don't know what conclusions his observations may bring him to.

George Eliot does not let us down in her portrayal of the dilemmas facing women in her time. My mind was exercised hard in trying to imagine how one of the heroines, Gwendolen Harleth, could extricate herself from the trap of her marriage: was there any way of making any agreement with her husband that could afford her some freedom for self-actualizing? Would a real man be amenable to some kind of negotiation? Often, some element of cooperation or non-cooperation in sexual pleasure is used as a lever in novels about marriages, but this option doesn't come into this story.

The book also examines the role of art in society -- what distinguishes a professional from an amateur? What happens when people with certain talents are prevented from developing them seriously? When is an actress an artist and when an object of some element of the sex trade?

Sex comes into the story more as a commodity than as a motivation. "Making love" is the term used for conversations between men and women about proposals of marriage. There are no bedroom scenes. The "kept woman" in the story acts to defend her rights, and receives some compensation in the end, though little joy. But Gwendolen, who superceded her and married the sadistic lord, has no joy either.

The community of characters collected in the plot does provide lots of puzzles to work out!

I'm glad I read/listened to this book.
1 vote gianne.b | Jul 27, 2013 |
Call me crazy, but even though this book was long, I LOVED it! George Eliot has a way of teaching without seeming too moralistic. She's like a serious, more brooding version of Dickens. ( )
  jessibelle34 | Jul 14, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George Eliotprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brockway, HarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cave, TerenceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Was she beautiful or not beautiful? and what was the secret of form or expression which gave the dynamic quality to her glance?
Quotations
To judge wisely I suppose we must know how things appear to the unwise; that kind of appearance making the larger part of the world’s history.
A nonchalance about sales seems to belong universally to the second-hand book-business. In most other trades you find generous men who are anxious to sell you their wares for your own welfare; but even a Jew ... One is led to believe that a secondhand bookseller may belong to that unhappy class of men who have no belief in the good of what they get their living by.
Emotion was at the acute point, where it is not distinguishable fromsensation.
Day followed day with that want of perceived leisure which belongs to lives where there is no work to mark off intervals.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140434275, Paperback)

As "Daniel Deronda" opens, Gwendolen Harleth is poised at the roulette-table, prepared to throw away her family fortune. She is observed by Daniel Deronda, a young man groomed in the finest tradition of the English upper-classes. And while Gwendolen loses everything and becomes trapped in an oppressive marriage, Deronda's fortunes take a different turn. After a dramatic encounter with the young Jewish woman Mirah, he becomes involved in a search for her lost family and finds himself drawn into ever-deeper sympathies with Jewish aspirations and identity. 'I meant everything in the book to be related to everything else', wrote George Eliot of her last and most ambitious novel, and in weaving her plot strands together she created a bold and richly textured picture of British society and the Jewish experience within it.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:52 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

George Eliot's last and most unconventional novel is considered by many to be her greatest. First published in installments in 1874-76, "Daniel Deronda" is a richly imagined epic with a mysterious hero at its heart. Deronda, a high-minded young man searching for his path in life, finds himself drawn by a series of dramatic encounters into two contrasting worlds: the English country-house life of Gwendolen Harleth, a high-spirited beauty trapped in an oppressive marriage, and the very different lives of a poor Jewish girl, Mirah, and her family. As Deronda uncovers the long-hidden secret of his own parentage, Eliot's moving and suspenseful narrative opens up a world of Jewish experience previously unknown to the Victorian novel.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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Audible.com

Two editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140434275, 0141199245

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