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Daniel Deronda (1876)

by George Eliot

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,709483,321 (3.88)1 / 287
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 287 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
This took me forever to finish! Hoo-boy. I'm proud of myself for sticking with it. When I was about 70% finished I decided to just watch the BBC miniseries. But when I finished the miniseries, I wanted to go back and finish the book. It's so slow, it's almost meditative. The audiobook narrator was great. Other things I liked about this book:

1. Daniel Deronda is a super appealing hero. Very crush-worthy if you like lawful good types. His whole thing is empathy!

2. Gwendolyn Harleth is obnoxious at first, but then she goes on a real journey of self-discovery. And then she's obnoxious is a totally different way. All you can do is feel sorry for her. It's 144 years since this book's publication and it's still a thing that beautiful women are treated like their beauty gives them power. But does it? In Gwendolyn's case, it leads to suffering.

3. Spoiler alert (lol, this book came out 144 years ago) but Deronda's mother is great character even though she only has two scenes. Favorite quote: “You are not a woman. You may try—but you can never imagine what it is to have a man's force of genius in you, and yet to suffer the slavery of being a girl.” Damn. ( )
  LibrarianDest | Jan 3, 2024 |
This is my first George Eliot novel. It was 900 pages of print, but since I had to read so many sentences at least twice to figure out what in the world she was getting at, it felt even longer. (I do realize that I read many series whose total page count is more than 900.)Most of the text seems to be about what had happened or might happen and how people felt about one or both of these; not much seems to take place in the present, which is too bad, because conversations were less convoluted than Eliot's explanations and usually comprehensible. I did learn a lot of mythology and history and popular culture of the time thanks to my nearby cell phone and Google.

I considered trying to write this review in the style of the author---many asides and colons and semi-colons and obscure references (at least for someone reading the novel in the beginning of the 21st century)---but, while it may be amusing to this writer, it may be less so the reader and, what is of more importance, it does not touch upon the plot and meaning of the book: who is the main character---Daniel or Gwendolen, since, according to the introduction, someone actually tried to rewrite the book to concentrate solely on Gwendolen---a spoiled child, as the first part is titled---who realizes that she is capable of developing a conscience if only Daniel is there to help her; or is it Daniel, a man with no faults beyond perhaps being too tolerant and considerate, who is lucky in the order in which he learns about himself and possible goals in life, as well as being lucky in the many coincidences that occur, especially those that throw Daniel and Gwendolen together in different European cities? The book ends as Daniel and Gwendolen are about to begin their adult lives---after 900 pages!

The introduction and timeline were helpful. I did eventually, I think, decipher almost all the text, but it was hard. There was a funny bit (I hope): "Music was soon begun. Miss Arrowpoint and Herr Klesmer played a four-handed piece on two pianos which convinced the company in general that it was long,..." [p. 49] I would have stopped the sentence there; Eliot goes on. ( )
  raizel | Nov 29, 2023 |
Once upon a time novels were public entertainment and Eliot knew how to paint vivid word pictures for her readers. The extended descriptions of place and the thoughts and feelings of characters adds depth and dimension to the story in ways we don't see today. The abundance of words occasionally made my head ache — not to mention my hand as I thought of how all of this was originally written out in longhand. Whew! (Talk about high production value.)

Character—that is, who a person reveals themself to be over time through word and deed—is a fascinating study worthy of our attention. And finding one's own identity never gets old.

Lovely long listen as I worked in my studio. ( )
  rebwaring | Aug 14, 2023 |
It pains me to admit... a bit of a slog. More than a bit, actually, especially since I've read Middlemarch at least four times and will always believe it to be one of the greatest of all novels in English. Perhaps Eliot reached that point in some artists' work where they move beyond themselves, into something darker, more opaque, less digestible (I'm thinking Beethoven's late quartets), and leave us mortals behind.

But Deronda... I just never warmed to the man. He's too saintly, too perfect. Eliot can be so fine with complex characters, and here expends pages upon pages upon pages on describing their every thought, feeling, heartbeat... but they never quite come alive here. Gwendolen Harleth, the spoiled, utterly self-absorbed young beauty is more interesting because she is so flawed and contradictory. Then - for reasons mostly mercenary - she accepts a nightmare marriage with the villainous, controlling, heartless aristo Grandcourt (even his name is heavy-handed). In Middlemarch, the cold-hearted, narrow-minded scholar Casaubon inspires some sympathy in his loneliness; Grandcourt inspires only loathing. Humbled by his cruelty, Gwendolen in her anguish seeks to reform herself, acknowledge the weakness that got her into this mess, and become better by hooking into Deronda's faultless goodness... and here, to Eliot's credit, she does not upend Gwendolen's basic character as she pleads and implores (there's a lot of imploring in this novel) and begs and cries to keep Deronda at her beck and call to tend to herself, while it never once occurs to her to even ask about his own crisis of identity, spirit, and anxious love.

Eliot clearly was closely examining the role of Jewish people in this late 19th century English society, with a great deal of sympathy and interest, sometimes idealization, and sometimes some ineradicable stereotypes of pawnbrokers, traders, and swindlers. Deronda's unknown mother turns out to be a gifted singer who has rebelled furiously against her tyrannical father's strictures about who she is expected to be and how she is forced to behave, including giving up her infant son in order to live her life as she feels she has a right to. Eliot seems torn about how she sees this woman: both sympathetic to her plight under her father's coercive demands, and yet blaming her for becoming an emotional cripple. The dreadful father is later held up as a revered intellectual and spiritual leader in whom Daniel takes some pride. It's odd. And frankly, the brother Mordecai (aka Ezra), who is also revered as a sage by his family and friends comes across as a morose, humorless, tedious zealot - whose mantle the pious Deronda can't wait to take up.

If you've not read Eliot, I wouldn't recommend starting here. If you love her, you have to work awfully hard to pry out any humor, life, or warm-blooded, messy humanity from the long pages of explication, polemics, and all that imploring in this one. Three stars because it's George Eliot (and for the passages involving tormenting sensitive dogs and the reassurance provided by a cat); otherwise... meh. ( )
  JulieStielstra | Mar 19, 2023 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eliot, Georgeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Akbas, Beyaz ArifEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bokelman, ChristianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brockway, HarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bron, EleanorReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A.S.Introductionsecondary 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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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
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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