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Daniel Deronda (1876)

by George Eliot

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,484463,162 (3.88)1 / 275
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)
  1. 70
    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. 10
    Harrington by Maria Edgeworth (nessreader)
  4. 01
    Ulysses by James Joyce (kara.shamy)
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 Geeks who love the Classics: Daniel Deronda2 unread / 2kac522, April 2013

» See also 275 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
If I were George Eliot, I would have had Mirah's father take the ring he stole from Daniel Deronda to Ezra Cohen's pawn shop, where Ezra would have recognized it and detained him, so the police could take him to jail and Daniel could get his father's ring back. That was the only thing wrong with the ending. ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
George Eliot’s tome, Daniel Deronda, was her last novel and it is anything but an easy read. Quite frequently when the narrative began to move and become quite interesting, Eliot would veer off into another direction and leave me champing at the bit to get back to the story.

Having recently read Middlemarch, I couldn’t help feeling that these characters were all pale and colorless next to those I had just left behind. The character, Daniel Deronda, was a particular puzzle to me, with reactions that did not seem to be realistic and too much of an effort to make him a type instead of an individual. Perhaps I was just too worn out with his “goodness” to really like him. Gwendolen was understandable and flawed enough to make up for it. She was both interesting and represented the most growth and change through the course of the novel.

I started this novel with a pretty serious dislike of Gwendolen, the spoiled girl, but by the end of the novel my attitude toward her had softened. I saw her as a bit of a Hardy character, caught in the awareness of her faults, without any avenue for correcting them or atoning for her sins. Without giving anything of the plot away, I cannot help admiring her resistance of giving in to the basest reaction to her situation. At the last, I think she was much harder on herself than I would have been inclined to be.

Obviously, much of the purpose of this novel is to address the place of Jewish customs and society in 19th Century Europe. Eliot appears to have some very strong feelings about the maintenance of the Jewish people as a separate identity vs. the efforts to absorb them into the Christian society, with the loss of their own specific religion, customs and heritage. I could not help reading this novel with an eye toward what came later, the holocaust and the rise of the Jewish State. I was very interested in what I saw as the struggle to understand Jews and admit them to be on equal standing with their peers. I wonder what kind of reception this got at the time it was written.

Although I recognized Eliot’s purpose being to explain and perhaps endear us to the Jewish characters, they were the characters I could least understand. Mordecai’s almost paranormal recognition of Daniel as a like soul, Mirah’s perfection (along with Daniel’s), and the coldness of Daniel’s mother make them seem less accessible. And, she cannot resist bringing in some of the oldest and most cliched stereotypes when dealing with the Cohens...the typical Jewish family.

I did find this passage from Daniel’s mother very interesting:

”Had I not a rightful claim to be something more than a mere daughter and mother? The voice and the genius matched the face. Whatever else was wrong, acknowledge that I had a right to be an artist, though my father’s will was against it. My nature gave me a charter.”

We are confronted with the idea that a career and motherhood cannot exist side-by-side. She is the bold woman who chooses the career. She hasn’t a speck of motherly feeling. She is painted throughout the entire episode as cold and unnatural. Superwoman had not yet been invented.

While I did find this a worthy read, it cannot live up to the precedents set by Middlemarch and Mill on the Floss to my mind. I had scheduled it to read in 2015 and had to push it over to 2016, so it feels like a personal accomplishment to have it behind me. I will be thinking about it for some time, I am sure and it may be one of those novels that grows in importance as it settles on my mind. ( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
[2021-11-19]
  pbth1957 | Nov 19, 2021 |
I blame BBC's adaption of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South for my obsession with this book. You know that gorgeous green striped dress that Margaret wears at the train station? Well I was putting movies away at work and I saw that dress on the back of a cover. It was Romola Garai on the back of BBC's Daniel Deronda. Given the fact that the cover also contained Hugh Dancy (someone I have loved since my Ella Enchanted days), I took it home and was hooked.

Middlemarch had been on my list for a while but this Eliot novel rose in priority. I loved it. I loved Mirah and her fierce devotion to her country, culture and belief system. I loved Daniel and his staunch commitment to behaving in alignment with his beliefs. I felt for Gwendolyn in her naivety and, well, fear. Because isn't it fear that motivates her?

Eliot is a master of creating living, breathing, growing characters. I'm excited to read more of her work. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
I appreciated the complex nature and depth of Daniel Deronda, but didn't enjoy it nearly as much as Middlemarch, and found I got rather bogged down for a while in the middle. ( )
  JBD1 | Jan 30, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eliot, Georgeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Akbas, Beyaz ArifEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brockway, HarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cave, TerenceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hamman, Edouard ConradCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Handley, GrahamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hardy, Barbara NathanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, CaroleIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mathias, RobertCover designersecondary 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.)
Disambiguation notice
This work has been published in many different editions of 2, 3, or 4 volumes. Please do not combine individual volumes with the complete work.

Special note on Everyman’s Library editions: Dent originally published the work in 2 volumes, numbers 539 and 540. Subsequently Dent published a new one-volume edition as number 539. Please do not combine the original number 539 with the complete work.
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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.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140434275, 0141199245

Urban Romantics

An edition of this book was published by Urban Romantics.

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