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Daniel Deronda is a novel by George Eliot, first published in 1876. It was the last novel she completed and the only one set in the contemporary Victorian society of her day. Its mixture of social satire and moral searching, along with a sympathetic rendering of Jewish proto-Zionist and Kaballistic ideas has made it a controversial final statement of one of the greatest of Daniel Deronda is a novel by George Eliot, first published in 1876. It was the last novel she completed and the only one set in the contemporary Victorian society of her day. Its mixture of social satire and moral searching, along with a sympathetic rendering of Jewish proto-Zionist and Kaballistic ideas has made it a controversial final statement of one of the greatest of Victorian novelists. CONTENTS. About The Author Free Audiobook Download How to Transfer Files via PC/Mac. The Authorized Daniel Deronda - [ Free Audiobook Download ] [ Annotated ] for Kindle Edition offers reader special Kindle enabled features, including interactive table of contents.Easy to use table of contents take you right to the chapter and verse you are looking for


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Daniel Deronda is a novel by George Eliot, first published in 1876. It was the last novel she completed and the only one set in the contemporary Victorian society of her day. Its mixture of social satire and moral searching, along with a sympathetic rendering of Jewish proto-Zionist and Kaballistic ideas has made it a controversial final statement of one of the greatest of Daniel Deronda is a novel by George Eliot, first published in 1876. It was the last novel she completed and the only one set in the contemporary Victorian society of her day. Its mixture of social satire and moral searching, along with a sympathetic rendering of Jewish proto-Zionist and Kaballistic ideas has made it a controversial final statement of one of the greatest of Victorian novelists. CONTENTS. About The Author Free Audiobook Download How to Transfer Files via PC/Mac. The Authorized Daniel Deronda - [ Free Audiobook Download ] [ Annotated ] for Kindle Edition offers reader special Kindle enabled features, including interactive table of contents.Easy to use table of contents take you right to the chapter and verse you are looking for

30 review for Daniel Deronda - [ Free Audiobook Download ] [ Annotated ]

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fionnuala

    I watched a TV adaptation recently of Andrea Levy's Small Island, a book I had read when it first came out but which I'd more or less forgotten. The adaptation succeeded very well, and might even have been better than the book. The characters were very credible and their words and actions explained their circumstances perfectly. But there was a voiceover which I thought was unnecessary since the faces of the actors were very expressive and the dialogues filled in any missing background informati I watched a TV adaptation recently of Andrea Levy's Small Island, a book I had read when it first came out but which I'd more or less forgotten. The adaptation succeeded very well, and might even have been better than the book. The characters were very credible and their words and actions explained their circumstances perfectly. But there was a voiceover which I thought was unnecessary since the faces of the actors were very expressive and the dialogues filled in any missing background information. Soon afterwards, I watched the first episode of a three-part adaptation of Daniel Deronda, and had the opposite reaction. Nothing made sense to me. I was convinced that a large part of Eliot's intentions for the story were missing, and while the actors were all fine in their way, the words they were given to say were simply not enough. I tried to fill in the missing bits myself but couldn't - it was impossible to imagine the history and motivations that lay behind those characters and their actions, as impossible as trying to imagine the layers of messages underlying the movie title Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri until you've viewed that extraordinary film for yourself - which I've just done. If there had been a book on which that film was based, I'm certain that it could never measure up to the movie. Every frame was a billboard in itself, and the message on each was astonishingly spare and incredibly eloquent. George Eliot is very eloquent, but there is nothing spare about her writing. You cannot pare it down and fit it in movie frames yet it is very visual for all that. It belongs on the page but offers the big screen experience to the mind's eye. You just have to read all the words to see the pictures properly. I was very glad I abandoned the TV adaptation after that first episode and picked up the book instead. Right from the first page I realised that without the support of the text I could never have succeeded in fully understanding the complexities of motivation that lay behind the surface story, or indeed the scope of Eliot's project in the first place. And when I reached the end of the book, I was certain that I didn't need to watch the rest of the TV adaptation - the book had been more vivid for me that any adaptation could be. I posted an update the day I finished the book, regretting that the reading experience was over, and a curious conversation erupted in the comments section of that update (comment #17 onwards). The conversation made me realise that there are readers who tackle books as if their task was to adapt them for the screen rather than simply read what is on the page. They would like to cut massive sections, delete certain characters altogether and make other characters act differently so that the story might move towards an ending they think is more fitting. You could say that such an approach is a very 'creative' way of reading but you could also wonder where the writer's intentions for her work fit in that scenario. The writer's intentions are everything for me. I may probe them and question them sometimes but I would never disregard them. A writer's work is a sacred thing, a bit like other people's religious beliefs, not to be tampered with even when we don't revere them ourselves. I mention religion because it is a major theme in this book. George Eliot seems to have become more and more interested in Judaism during the course of her life, at first in an effort to overcome her own prejudices towards the increasing Jewish population in mid-nineteenth century Britain, and then later because she had become genuinely interested in the common origin of Judaism and Christianity. This book is essentially about that preoccupation but because Eliot is very good at creating story lines, she has inserted the Jewish themed story into an intriguing frame story. Readers seem to differ about which story is the more worthwhile part of the book, and many favour the frame story. However, I found that the two strands overlapped and echoed each other so well that I never even thought of separating or comparing them. Characters from both sections mirrored each other even if they seemed completely opposite, and the central redeemer-like figure of Daniel Deronda linked them all together perfectly. The overall shape of the book worked very well for me and I'm left in awe of George Eliot's mind as well as her writing. The result of this unplanned reading adventure is that Daniel Deronda now marks the beginning of my 2018 George Eliot season. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of her books, and I may possibly reread Middlemarch as a fitting endnote. So much for the to-read stack I selected at the beginning of January. Abandoned indefinitely! ………………………………………………… Because I've a keen interest in Henry James, and I know he admired George Eliot's writing, I was interested to spot what might have been the germ of his inspiration for The Portrait of a Lady. Eliot's frame story concerns a fiercely independent-minded young woman who, in spite of the general expectation, is in no hurry to marry anyone. Nevertheless, like HJ's Isabel Archer, Gwendolyn Harleth finds herself enslaved by a cold-hearted husband who is only interested in crushing her independent spirit. It seems to me that Henleigh Grandcourt and HJ's Gilbert Osmond have a lot in common. Eliot's main story also reminded me of another Henry James plot line. I think Daniel Deronda could have been an inspiration for Hyacinth Robinson in Princess Casamassima. They are both orphans who desperately need to discover more about their parents, and they both become deeply involved in movements they had no previous associations with. Slim connections, perhaps, but I love finding such links.

  2. 3 out of 5

    Kalliope

    THE DIPTYCH This novel was renewed my interest on how George Eliot wrote. I am highly tempted to read more about her and approach literary evaluations of her writing, but before I do so I want to read Adam Bede and Silas Marner and may be reread The Mill on the Floss. When I read Romola I considered GE’s cosmopolitanism and breath of knowledge. These elements are also present in Daniel Deronda but with an added edge. With Middlemarch it was the role of the narrator and the clear presence of the THE DIPTYCH This novel was renewed my interest on how George Eliot wrote. I am highly tempted to read more about her and approach literary evaluations of her writing, but before I do so I want to read Adam Bede and Silas Marner and may be reread The Mill on the Floss. When I read Romola I considered GE’s cosmopolitanism and breath of knowledge. These elements are also present in Daniel Deronda but with an added edge. With Middlemarch it was the role of the narrator and the clear presence of the author that attracted me. In DD the voice of the writer is also clear but in less authorial fashion and, one suspects, speaking more often through her characters. What struck me most, and want to select for my review this time, is the structure of the novel. It is clearly divided in two. Clearly a diptych. Already MM seemed to me to consist of two parallel stories joined somewhat seamlessly in the middle. The study of provincial evolved around two foci, the doctor Lydgate and the illuminated Dorothea. Both idealists. The twists and turnings of the plot, however, managed to link the two stories creating a middle path in Middlemarch were these two different versions of dreamers confronted each other and helped each other in correcting their reflections. This double structure is again present in Daniel Deronda, GE’s last novel, but with a wider gap between the two panels. With almost separated frames the novel reads like a double portrait, or a diptych with two facing and complementary donors searching for an object of adoration that is however missing – for the Self is never in the other. The two subjects pursue their mirroring images and transverse their separating frames by engaging in dialogs and verbal encounters. The twists and turns of the plot this time do not fuse their separated worlds. Only their minds bridge the gap. Generally I do not discuss characters in my reviews, but I can't avoid it this time. In this novel, the two protagonists, the sitters in the double portrait, baffled me. Gwendolen (Gwen), potentially a highly irritating young woman, fascinated me because I thought she was such a modern character. I expected that young powerful women in today’s professional world, and who are not just capable and intelligent, but also beautiful—and I am thinking of top Wall street traders, or international lawyers of the type, of for example, Amal Aladdin--, must have a similar self-assurance and defiance and inner drive and independence and élan as Gwen. But even if these contemporary women have had a better chance to explore and exploit their abilities in their chosen fields of excellence than GE has allowed Gwen, she did not get on my nerves. I was enthralled by her modernity. Daniel, in spite of having claimed the title of the novel, remained for me an equivocal figure. It is almost as if in my diptych Daniel—with his messianic role turned around, for he is the Christian leading onto the Jewish— is a donor who through a process of transubstantiation has become the object of adoration. And in that transformation, the novel dims and blurs its cast of characters and becomes more and more an exploration of ideas, spirituality and politics, with a defence of Judaism and a daring proposal of Zionism. In all this Daniel emerges as an ethereal saviour but poor Gwen succumbs and loses her leading edge. And that is what made me wonder about how GE wrote her books and planned her work in her mind. Did she spend half of her day doing intellectual research on the subjects that captivated her and did she then transcribe her reading into her novel in the afternoons? What was her true objective, to expand her erudition, or to mould it into something else? I will have to put aside my curiosity for a while and continue reading her work, but with her intelligent writing and formidable abilities she certainly makes me ponder about the process of writing, that elusive act - creativity. How is it born and how does it live? And how did Rothko paint the above diptych?

  3. 3 out of 5

    Candi

    I finished this book about a month ago and have been letting my thoughts first simmer and then actually almost get pushed onto the back burner as our summer holidays began. Once I decided to look over my notes, I realized that a review might be quite overwhelming. Furthermore, the book did not necessarily endear itself to me more over time as many typically do when I prepare to write down my impressions. On the other hand, I most certainly acknowledge that this was an important book and quite a I finished this book about a month ago and have been letting my thoughts first simmer and then actually almost get pushed onto the back burner as our summer holidays began. Once I decided to look over my notes, I realized that a review might be quite overwhelming. Furthermore, the book did not necessarily endear itself to me more over time as many typically do when I prepare to write down my impressions. On the other hand, I most certainly acknowledge that this was an important book and quite a feat of writing on the part of George Eliot. I applaud her efforts at setting on paper her ideas regarding feminism, the British aristocracy, and racial identity, in particular that of Judaism. What I had the most trouble with was the often cumbersome reflections of the main characters which detracted from the flow of the narrative. The interactions between the characters were to me the most stimulating portions to absorb as a reader. The characterizations were well done – some characters being more interesting, even if not likable, than others. "She had a naïve delight in her fortunate self, which any but the harshest saintliness will have some indulgence for in a girl who had every day seen a pleasant reflection of that self in her friends’ flattery as well as in the looking-glass." The spoiled and self-absorbed Gwendolen Harleth finds herself in a position she never expected to be – that of bad luck and sudden poverty. What is a girl to do in this situation? Degrade oneself by taking a position or, perhaps worse yet, accept an offer of marriage? "Her observation of matrimony had inclined her to think it rather a dreary state in which a woman could not do what she liked, had more children than were desirable, was consequently dull, and became irrevocably immersed in humdrum." Saucy little turns of phrase such as this won me over and held my attention. Gwendolen was perhaps the most interesting and multi-layered character of this book. When Gwendolen Harleth meets the saintlike figure of Daniel Deronda, their lives become connected as she attempts to better herself to become deserving of his friendship and esteem. But while Gwendolen fights her demons, Deronda struggles with his own identity crisis - one which stems from an unknown parentage as well as from a strong spiritual link to an impassioned Jewish nationalist, Mordecai. Deronda "had not the Jewish consciousness, but he had a yearning, grown the stronger for the denial which had been his grievance, after the obligation of avowed filial and social ties." Throughout this novel, Eliot illustrates the feelings of anti-Semitism which were prevalent during the 19th century. Through Deronda, however, these feelings are changed as he develops a relationship with both Mirah, to whom he is also a savior, as well as Mordecai. Deronda learns the true and principled nature of the Jewish people and their desire to achieve a national identity. "… let the unity of Israel which has made the growth and form of its religion be an outward reality. Looking toward a land and a polity, our dispersed people in all the ends of the earth may share the dignity of a national life which has a voice among the peoples of the East and the West…" Several more players are introduced into the plot, too many for me to delve into detail here. I will say that Mr. Grandcourt and Mr. Lush make my list for the most strikingly malodorous individuals – in a very amusing sort of way. They provided a nice counterbalance to the gushing wholesomeness of Deronda and Mirah. Gwendolen’s mother was a bit silly and spineless, especially in relation to her daughter. This was my fourth George Eliot novel. While I did like it - once I plowed through the more laborious portions of it- I have to say that it is my least favorite so far. Both Middlemarch and The Mill on the Floss were much more readable and engaging and I would recommend either of these – especially for a first time Eliot reader. I am glad that I read this one, and happy to add it to my list of more difficult tomes I have completed. 3.5 stars rounded down.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Furqan

    (Re-read from June 07 to June 12, 2012) I had forgotten what a hard work reading Daniel Deronda was. It has to be Eliot’s most challenging and overwhelming novel, yet such a great pleasure to read and re-read! It's enormously ambitious novel, broad in its scope, space, time and history. The setting itself is untypical of Eliot’s previous novels. It’s no longer the idyllic, provincial villages of Adam Bede or Middlemarch, but Daniel Deronda is set at the heart of cosmopolitan aristocracy of contem (Re-read from June 07 to June 12, 2012) I had forgotten what a hard work reading Daniel Deronda was. It has to be Eliot’s most challenging and overwhelming novel, yet such a great pleasure to read and re-read! It's enormously ambitious novel, broad in its scope, space, time and history. The setting itself is untypical of Eliot’s previous novels. It’s no longer the idyllic, provincial villages of Adam Bede or Middlemarch, but Daniel Deronda is set at the heart of cosmopolitan aristocracy of contemporary London. The politics are no longer local, but global as Eliot scrutinises the exploits of British Empire. The stakes are much higher; the individual identities are threatened and lost. The conflict is personal, yet also very social. Of all the Eliot’s novels, Daniel Deronda is the most related to our contemporary society as Eliot explores the themes of racial identity, prejudice, importance of tolerance, religion, the question of gender boundaries, imperialism and Zionism. Gwendolen Harleth has to be Eliot's most remarkable and fascinating creation. In fact, I am in love with Gwendolen. The main reason I re-read this novel because I missed her. I missed being in her mind, to follow her cognitions, her mental anguish, her witty repartees, sheer snobbery, ambition and heedless narcissism. She is of course not the first vain or shallow female character ever created by Eliot. The ‘vain girl’ features in most of Eliot’s novels, often as a contrast to the heroine. She is there as Hetty in Adam Bede, Esther in Felix Holt, Rosamond in Middlemarch. But in Daniel Deronda, Gwendolen is put at the centre of the stage and her narcissism is taken to extremes, that there is a scene where she is moved to kiss her own reflection in the mirror. Like countless other women, she suffers from the restrictions Victorian society imposed on any respectable woman. She is a dreamer and sees marriage not as a loving union, but as a way to achieve status and power. She marries Grandcourt because she thinks she will be able to manage him and make him her “slave”. Yet contrary to her expectations, the marriage turns out to be an abusive one. Gwendolen fails to realise that Grandcourt also has an iron will of his own. The irony is that her decision to marry the incredibly wealthy Grandcourt was to some extent influenced by her selfless concern towards her bankrupt family. So, her partly selfless act becomes the bane of her life. Grandcourt is bent on to be “a master of a woman who would have liked to master him”. A painful psychological struggle for power ensues between them and Gwendolen is quickly crushed by him. His secret becomes her guilt, a yoke around her neck which continually gnaws at her conscience. He breaks her spirit and she becomes withered from inside, “a diseased soul”, but is forced to play a charade of a happy wife. I liked Deronda even if I found him to be rigid and morally superior. He is Eliot’s most feminine hero. His ostensibly ‘feminine’ quality of abundant empathy and psychological perceptiveness is contrasted with Gwendolen’s ‘masculine’ desire for power. He is the only person who sees Gwendolen for what she is behind her mask of superficial pride and cheerfulness. Naturally, Gwendolen is drawn to Deronda to help her make her life more bearable. He becomes her redeemer, in the same way as he redeems her necklace which she pawns after gambling. Her letter to him contains the most moving and tear-inducing lines of the whole novel. But, Deronda is the man with his own set of troubles. Unsure of his true identity, he struggles to find a stable niche in society. He is the medium which Eliot uses to explore the plight of London's scorned Jewish community and the emergence of Zionism, for which this novel is perhaps most famous for. Daniel Deronda is highly symbolic novel. All those literary references to mythology, science, philosophy, religion and mysticism, which slightly irritated me at first reading, fit perfectly in the thematic framework of the novel. The characters themselves are symbols. Grandcourt symbolises the corruption and vulgarity of English aristocracy, given to reckless materialism and hedonism. His need to crush Gwendolen could be interpreted as the Empire’s colonial ambitions to conquer and enslave the population of the Third World. Deronda’s alienation is symbolically shared by the Jewish people to a broader extent, who are scattered around the world with no actual homeland and scorned by the native population of their home countries. Overall, Daniel Deronda is a terribly exhausting but an equally rewarding read. If you are new to Eliot, I wouldn't recommend reading this first as it might put you off Eliot forever, but her earlier works such as The Mill on the Floss.

  5. 3 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    This was one of those long stories that in the end were worth a read. I have previously read “Middlemarch” by George Eliot, but in many ways I find “Daniel Deronda” to be a different story that is interesting in many ways. Our main character, Gwendolen, is quite a character. She’s selfish, attention-seeking and frivolous, and in many ways she actually reminded me of Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”. I liked reading about her a lot - especially because she does change throughout the narrat This was one of those long stories that in the end were worth a read. I have previously read “Middlemarch” by George Eliot, but in many ways I find “Daniel Deronda” to be a different story that is interesting in many ways. Our main character, Gwendolen, is quite a character. She’s selfish, attention-seeking and frivolous, and in many ways she actually reminded me of Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”. I liked reading about her a lot - especially because she does change throughout the narrative - but some people might find her too repulsive to take an interest in. The other main character is Daniel Deronda who is, in many ways, the opposite of Gwendolen. It’s very interesting to see the way his life is parallelled to Gwendolen’s; especially because his life is in many ways different from hers. He’s considerate, caring, and he develops a fondness for Jews and wants to explore their religion and way of living in spite of them being anhorred by most white Christians in the current English society. This is an epic tale that takes devotion to get through, but while it took me some effort to read it because of its many reflections on life (oftentimes directed directly to the reader which I wasn’t that fond of), all in all I find this work to be accomplished, entertaining and very interesting! It’s definitely worth a read, and I’m happy that I got to be acquainted with Gwendolen, Daniel and the magnificent set of characters.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    While ostensibly the story of one Daniel Deronda, a young man of (we learn) unknown parentage, raised to be an educated Englishman of worth and standing, this novel is also the tale of Gwendolen Harleth, and how their lives intersect. We are introduced to both early on and see them off and on over time as they face changes within their families, their sense of self, their future. This is my third Eliot novel. While I found some truly wonderful prose here, as I have found in the others I have rea While ostensibly the story of one Daniel Deronda, a young man of (we learn) unknown parentage, raised to be an educated Englishman of worth and standing, this novel is also the tale of Gwendolen Harleth, and how their lives intersect. We are introduced to both early on and see them off and on over time as they face changes within their families, their sense of self, their future. This is my third Eliot novel. While I found some truly wonderful prose here, as I have found in the others I have read, I was left with the impression that Eliot attempted more than she could comfortably accomplish. Her character descriptions are typically excellent, some quite amusing. She is able to skewer her people both lovingly --- and not. As an example of the first (perhaps) there is this description of Gwendolen. And happening to be seated sideways before the long strip of mirror between her two windows she turned to look at herself, leaning her elbow on the back of the chair in an attitude that might have been chosen for her portrait. It is possible to have a strong self-love without self-satisfaction, rather with a self-discontent which is the more intense because one's own little core of egoistic sensibility is a supreme care; but Gwendolen knew nothing of such inward strife. She had a naive delight in her fortunate self... (loc 972) As for another character, Grandcourt: when he raised his hat he showed an extensive baldness surrounded with a mere fringe of reddish- blond hair...; the line of feature from brow to chin undisguised by beard was decidedly handsome, with only moderate departures from the perpendicular, and the slight whisker too was perpendicular. It was not possible for a human aspect to be freer from grimace or solicitous wrigglings; also it was perhaps not possible for a breathing man wide awake to look less animated....his long narrow grey eyes expressed nothing but indifference. (loc 2507) But after these characterizations comes the plot and here comes also what, for me, was the problem. Here it felt as if Eliot's concern for the politics and history of her story overwhelmed the narrative. That never really gelled with the basic story of the characters. The polemics overshadowed several chapters and a few of the characters, seeming to reduce them to ciphers. But Eliot is still a powerful writer and, often, a clever and beautiful writer. I didn't find her writing about the "cause" too strident. Some of it I found very appealing. But as a whole I don't think it succeeded in bringing the story of Daniel Deronda fully to life.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hadrian

    This last novel by George Eliot is a psychological investigation into the question of identity and role. Identity concealed, identity as a role to be performed, identity as a prison. This is also the only written in Eliot's own time, instead of some decades previous. It asks difficult questions about the nature of class, race, and gender, and their understanding in contemporary society. Upon this, there is a dimension of secularism and religious mysticism. The figure of Mordecai, infusing politic This last novel by George Eliot is a psychological investigation into the question of identity and role. Identity concealed, identity as a role to be performed, identity as a prison. This is also the only written in Eliot's own time, instead of some decades previous. It asks difficult questions about the nature of class, race, and gender, and their understanding in contemporary society. Upon this, there is a dimension of secularism and religious mysticism. The figure of Mordecai, infusing political ideas with religious symbolism - and the background presence of references to death and the supernatural - all this is an unusual step for Eliot, who is otherwise committed to psychological realism. Another key focus of the novel is positive portrayal of Judaism - then an oppressed and stereotyped religious minority in England, even after Disraeli became Prime Minister. Mirah seems a childish naif, almost a noble savage, and seeing Daniel's relationship with her is discomfiting. Even in her strenuous attempts to show that this oppressed and ignored group are in fact human beings with consciences, hopes, and dreams, Eliot perhaps unconsciously wanders into some stereotyping. That is a more persistent form of racism, one which refers to stereotyping instead of active hatred and spite. Even so, Eliot takes great pains to sympathize and learn here. She grants a voice to this people's hope for a new land, a home, a place to find others like you, and a place to call one's own. All of this is tied with the words Zionism and the land of Israel, which are loaded with new implications and urgency over the next century and a half. The historical introduction assures us that the Jewish community were elated by this sympathetic representation. For any flaws it may have after over a century, Eliot has gone out of her way to lend her considerable gifts in writing and psychological depiction to empathize with them - a noted step up from anything before.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    Now here’s a book that combines two of my very favorite things: classic British romance with – YES! – Jewish themes. Marian Evans a/k/a George Eliot even went to Frankfurt am Main to do research for the book – in the times of no less than Rav Samson Rafael Hirsch! I think I’ve found a thesis topic if I ever get to graduate school. Till then, though, I’ll have to content myself with this review. No major spoilers, but it is a pretty detailed plot summary, so if you want to be 100% safe, skip to t Now here’s a book that combines two of my very favorite things: classic British romance with – YES! – Jewish themes. Marian Evans a/k/a George Eliot even went to Frankfurt am Main to do research for the book – in the times of no less than Rav Samson Rafael Hirsch! I think I’ve found a thesis topic if I ever get to graduate school. Till then, though, I’ll have to content myself with this review. No major spoilers, but it is a pretty detailed plot summary, so if you want to be 100% safe, skip to the last two paragraphs. In the opening scene, we meet Gwendolen Harleth (as in, sounds like “harlot”) who is on a winning streak at a roulette table. Observing her is the title character, Daniel Deronda. She feels he is judging her negatively, which disconcerts her, so she begins to lose. Within the next few scenes, he takes a mysterious action which really unnerves her. And that is the last we see of him until Chapter 16. The story then backtracks to Gwendolen’s family life, and this is the part that is most reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel (though Eliot’s prose is much denser). Gwendolen’s social position is similar to that of the Dashwood girls; she’s not rich, but she socializes in the upper class circle of a small country-town. As a character, though, she is more of an anti-heroine than heroine. Like Lydia Bennet, she’s out first and foremost for a good time, except she’s cleverer and more calculating. She wants admirers, especially male admirers, but then scorns them without caring about how many hearts she breaks. This section of the book is called “The Spoiled Child,” and George Eliot paints the hateful portrait in painstaking detail. Enter Mr. Grandcourt. (Read grand + court = landed gentry.) He’s way too suave for Gwendolen to scorn, and her family watches their courtship with eagerness. After all, from a financial standpoint, he’s a Good Catch. But even when Gwendolen gets evidence of his rakishness, she finds she can’t resist him. They marry. Then the novel shifts back to Daniel Deronda, a young gentleman with no clear direction. He was a serious scholar at Cambridge and proved himself to be exceptionally kind to his friends, but he lives in the shadow of not knowing who his parents are. Rumor has it that he is the illegitimate son of Sir Hugo Mallinger, the nobleman who raised him. Daniel also believes the rumors, but loves Sir Hugo too much to confront him about it. Meanwhile, Sir Hugo’s legal heir is none other than Gwendolen’s husband, Mr. Grandcourt. In a scene I won’t dare spoil, Daniel encounters Mirah, a Jewess. She is literally a “tinok she nishbu,” a kidnapped child raised away from Judaism. When Daniel finds her, she is nineteen years old, has escaped her captors, and is in desperate search of her family. Daniel, like Harry Potter, has “a thing about saving people,” so he joins in the search, and this leads him into the Jewish communities of London and Frankfurt. Jews, especially baalei teshuva, will appreciate if not love Chapter 32. It includes the descriptions of the Frankfurt synagogue – taken from Rav Hirsch; I just can’t get over it! – and Mirah’s passionate declaration to her Christian friends, “I will always cling to my people.” Mirah is a bit of a Mary Sue, but she gives voice to the pintele Yid that motivates all us BTs. How in the world did George Eliot know? The rest of the novel alternates between scenes of Gwendolen in her souring marriage and scenes with the Jewish characters, which notably includes a visionary named Mordecai who is preaching religious Zionism. Daniel, the "knight errant," weaves his way through all of their lives. (Comic relief from Daniel's friend, Hans Meyrick.) Naturally, I am partial to the Jewish sections, but from a literary point of view, the portrayal of Gwendolen is the most masterful part of the novel. No character goes through as dramatic a transformation as she. I must reiterate that George Eliot does not reach Jane Austen in terms of prose style. At times the text is so heavy and full of extraneous detail that I suspected that like Dickens, she was paid by the word. But while Dickens was making it big with Fagin, Eliot was taking on anti-Semitism, not just by creating positive Jewish characters, but by letting her Christian characters work through their prejudices in the course of the novel. That makes her a heroine in my eyes. The scholarly introduction to my copy of the novel included some very interesting literary history. The British critics of the time panned the book for its Jewish themes. One suggested that Eliot should have left the Jews out and just called the book Gwendolen. An anonymous sequel by that title appeared a few years later, doing more or less that by killing off the Jewish characters and continuing the story of Gwendolen and Deronda. But the Jewish community’s reaction was a mirror image of the British critics'. The Jews loved the book, though some said that the romantic themes detracted from the main point of the novel, which was Zionism. And in parallel to the anonymous sequel, the German Jewish novelist Marcus Lehman adapted the book to include only the Jewish themes. I think the whole thing is pretty funny. Personally, I loved both parts of the book – the British and the Jewish. If you’re a fan of either genre, this is a worthwhile read. And if, like me, you’re a fan of both, chances are that you’ll find in this book a lifetime favorite you’ll be happy to immerse yourself in over and over again.

  9. 3 out of 5

    Teresa

    This ambitious novel melds the stories of two very different characters, so perhaps it's appropriate that the novel itself seems a hybrid of a little bit of a lot of what we expect from 19th-century British novelists: the sensational melodrama of Wilkie Collins; the perfection of 'good' characters a la Dickens, along with his humor and irony (though Eliot's is more subtle); the satire of marriage customs and the problem of moneymaking for females who are trained to be helpless, reminiscent of th This ambitious novel melds the stories of two very different characters, so perhaps it's appropriate that the novel itself seems a hybrid of a little bit of a lot of what we expect from 19th-century British novelists: the sensational melodrama of Wilkie Collins; the perfection of 'good' characters a la Dickens, along with his humor and irony (though Eliot's is more subtle); the satire of marriage customs and the problem of moneymaking for females who are trained to be helpless, reminiscent of the arguably-18th-century Austen; and the morality, compassion and authorial asides of Eliot herself. As only one example of the latter, Eliot literally excuses the faults of most of the characters (excepting the one true villain of the work) in sentences as superfluous as Gwendolen's younger half-sisters. I was intrigued by Chapter 11 whereby we 'hear' the thoughts between the spoken words of Gwen and Grandcourt upon their first meeting. Since it's early on, I hoped for more such innovation in its prose. But it is ideas, more than any other element, that are much more in the forefront, especially in the case of its eponymous character, who is obviously a Jesus-figure. He's not the only one who is almost too perfect and it's a bit of a relief for the 21st-century reader when one of these characters suffers understandable jealousy, seemingly her only 'fault'. Literary (as well as artistic and political) allusions abound and I enjoyed those that I caught -- classical mythology and The Divine Comedy stand out for me. Reading this novel is to know Eliot's brilliance and her genius.

  10. 3 out of 5

    Sara

    3.5 stars-rounded up to 4 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 puzzl 3.5 stars-rounded up to 4 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 her 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.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Charae

    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 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.

  12. 3 out of 5

    Gary

    Daniel Deronda centres around several characters. It relates to an intersection of Jewish and Gentile society in 19th century England. With references to Kaballah, Jewish identity and the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel. Gwendolen Harleth a spoiled but poised and spirited of a family of recently impoverished English gentry enters into a loveless marriage for money, with the cold Mr Grandcourt., but soon sickens of his emotional sadism. The novel centres around Gwendolen as much as it do Daniel Deronda centres around several characters. It relates to an intersection of Jewish and Gentile society in 19th century England. With references to Kaballah, Jewish identity and the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel. Gwendolen Harleth a spoiled but poised and spirited of a family of recently impoverished English gentry enters into a loveless marriage for money, with the cold Mr Grandcourt., but soon sickens of his emotional sadism. The novel centres around Gwendolen as much as it does around Daniel Deronda. It takes us through the lives of both major character's pasts ., before joining the two narratives into the present so to speak. Daniel Deronda is the adopted son of an English aristocrat, with who Gwendolyn falls in love. Deronda rescues the beautiful Jewish actress and singer Mirah Lapidoth from suicide by drowning, introducing us to another interesting and endearing character. He then becomes intimately involved with the society of English Jewry. Deronda later discovers his Jewish birth from his dying mother who was the daughter of a prominent Rabbi, who married her cousin. Deronda's story therefore as that of a Jew brought up as a Gentile aristocrat before discovering his identity and committing himself to the national welfare of his people is partly based on that of Moses. The book puts some focus, mainly through conversation on the yearning of the Jewish people to return to the Holy Land to rebuild the Jewish Commonwealth. Deronda and Mirah later leave England to help rebuild the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. This component of the novel has lead some prejudiced bigots, such as the loathsome Edward Said to condemn this 1876 classic as `Zionist propaganda'-an Orwellian charge indeed. People like Said cannot abide the anything that relates to the right of the Jews to live in and return to their ancient homeland. At the time of this novel's writing progressives saw the revival of nations and national self-determination as a positive thing. It was only nearly a century later that the nihilistic New Left in a sick and bizarre twist began to label the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland as an act of `colonialism'.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Despite its wildly excessive length and several bone-jarring plot twists, Daniel Deronda should please the majority of those who enjoyed Middlemarch. It succeeds in three areas. First, it tells how a frivolous, air-headed young woman acquires moral depth and wisdom. Second, it comments brilliantly on the institution of the "nephew", i.e. the young person raised by a male who denies being his father. Third it contains a superb discussion on what was the very new idea at the time the novel was pub Despite its wildly excessive length and several bone-jarring plot twists, Daniel Deronda should please the majority of those who enjoyed Middlemarch. It succeeds in three areas. First, it tells how a frivolous, air-headed young woman acquires moral depth and wisdom. Second, it comments brilliantly on the institution of the "nephew", i.e. the young person raised by a male who denies being his father. Third it contains a superb discussion on what was the very new idea at the time the novel was published of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. Virtually all readers are delighted by the tale of the glamorous heroine Gwendolen who upon becoming suddenly impoverished marries for money so as to provide for her mother and sisters. Gwendolen will quickly discover that not even her dazzling beauty can prevent her being subjected to the control and psychology cruelty of a nasty husband who knows how to use his advantages of being rich and living in a male-dominated society in order to dominate her. George Eliot's handling of Gwendolen's story is unquestionably brilliant. It is the second and third threads that give readers trouble. The story of Daniel, the apparently illegitimate son of a British baron who will eventually discover that his mother is Jewish, succeeds much less well than that of Gwendolen. As a teenager, Daniel asks his tutor why so many popes had nephews. At the end of the discussion Daniel concludes that his best course in life is to love the man who is bringing him up although not acknowledging that he is Daniel's father. At the same time, Daniel accepts that he can never inherit either the title or the estates attached to it. Unfortunately, George Eliot bungles the denouement of this sub-plot. When Daniel meets his mother, he learns that the baron was not in fact his father but in fact a Jewish cousin of his mother. I suspect that George Eliot made this preposterous choice to remove the Baron as the biological father in order to make Daniel Deronda's decision at the very end of the novel to move to the Middle East in order to assist in the creation of a Jewish Homeland seem more sensible by virtue of his having not one but two Jewish parents. However, much as I disliked the final plot twist, I still found that overall George Eliot told the tale of Daniel, the nephew, very well. George Eliot's discussion of the Jewish question is likely to disturb many contemporary readers primarily because the terms of reference are so different from those of today. Jewish Emancipation had been enacted in Britain in 1858 while Daniel Deronda was published in 1876. The Jewish characters in the novel then are reflecting on their less than 20 years of experience as full citizens in Great Britain. They do not know whether it would be best to assimilate completely into the Christian society or to try to retain a strong Jewish personality. The Zionist movement will not be formed until 1897 but wealthy English and French Jewish families have been sponsoring Jewish settlers in the Middle East since the 1850s. For George Eliot, the point of reference is the movement for Italian unification which had begun in the 1820s and finished in 1871 when the newly formed Kingdom of Italy moved its capital to Rome. In Eliot's view the probability of success had been very low when the movement began but had succeeded after fifty years of struggle. The key to establishing a Jewish homeland in the Middle East was simply for its partisans to be as tenacious as the Italians. On the final page of the novel, Daniel Deronda is sailing to the Middle East determined to as resolute as Mazzini. For any reader who is comfortable with George Eliot's analysis of the issue of a Jewish homeland, Daniel Deronda is a novel that succeeds brilliantly in every area.

  14. 3 out of 5

    Bruce

    I don’t know why I had never read George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda before, having read nearly all her other novels. This is a marvelous work, its great length permitting intricacy of plot and detailed examination of character. Published in 1876, it was Eliot’s last novel and her only novel taking place in contemporary Victorian society. It was also arguably one of her most controversial works. The plot is two-fold, one plot line involving traditional English class society and focusing on the life a I don’t know why I had never read George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda before, having read nearly all her other novels. This is a marvelous work, its great length permitting intricacy of plot and detailed examination of character. Published in 1876, it was Eliot’s last novel and her only novel taking place in contemporary Victorian society. It was also arguably one of her most controversial works. The plot is two-fold, one plot line involving traditional English class society and focusing on the life and fate of Gwendolen Harleth, an initially arrogant and pampered young woman who, through a series of misadventures, chooses to marry Grandcourt, a corrupt and domineering titled Englishman who makes her life a misery. The second plot line involves a young Jewess, Mirah, and her brother Mordecai (Ezra), following their struggles in the England of the time. The two plots are linked by the somewhat enigmatic Daniel Deronda, the ward and often-presumed illegitimate son of the wealthy Hugo Mallinger (thus making Deronda the presumed illegitimate cousin of Grandcourt). Deronda is presented as an idealized figure, receptive to the feelings and aspirations of people of all kinds, supportive of those in all circumstances, but himself somewhat lost in terms of personal aspirations and identity because of the questions about his ancestry. He eventually becomes a far more rounded figure, although not as quickly as Gwendolen does, as he discovers his personal background and develops a purpose to his life, these two representing the only two characters that emerge from relative flatness and stereotypes, even though some of the other characters are sympathetic in a simpler way. The novel is fascinating in part because of its sympathies toward and positive depiction of Judaism and proto-Zionism in a time when both were not popular in Victorian society. In fact, after Eliot’s death attempts were made to republish the book leaving out the Jewish subplot, an attempt which failed due to its effect in eviscerating the book altogether. I was also impressed by Eliot’s philosophical authorial digressions and the beauty and subtlety of her syntax. This is a work, a long work, designed to be read, as most Victorian novels were designed to be read, leisurely and carefully, the reader savoring the language as well as plot and underlying message. It should not be rushed through. Reflecting on our society more than a century later, I found myself musing about what societal groups might substitute for the Judaism of Eliot’s day, what groups are similarly stigmatized, often reflexively and almost unconsciously. Muslims might be one example, as might be Native Americans and other minority racial groups. The difficulty in discerning other possibilities may represent the fact that such stigmatizations often exist belong the level of usual awareness.

  15. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    I've learned two things: 1. Briefly, I am Gwendolyn 2. I can never listen to a George Eliot novel again. I love her writing. She's so eloquent, but she's so verbose that I just zone out. I'm DNF at chapter 56. I've decided I do not care what happens to any of these characters. I probably should have read the book. 2017 Reading Challenge: a book mentioned in another book

  16. 3 out of 5

    Anne

    Eliot is a master of characterization and uses this gift well in exploring two important themes in English society. The first and most unique is that of antisemitism in late 19th Century English life, as well as the beginnings of Zionism. The second theme is altruism vs. egotism. Too verbose at times, but otherwise a hugely ambitious and successful social novel. 4 1/2 stars.

  17. 3 out of 5

    Amanda

    4.5 stars but I'm rounding up. This was not quite as good as Middlemarch but it was close. Gwendolen is an absolutely fascinating character. She drove me crazy at times but she was great.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    This is probably one of the most frustrating books that I've had to review since coming to GR. I enjoyed it tremendously, in parts; and parts of it left me rather bored and wanting to put the book down. But for some reason, I couldn't ... and I persevered ... and I think I'm glad I did. (view spoiler)[Spoilers abound, in one way or another, because it is impossible to speak of this novel without them. Be warned, if you don't care to know what lies ahead. (hide spoiler)] . I say that only because wh This is probably one of the most frustrating books that I've had to review since coming to GR. I enjoyed it tremendously, in parts; and parts of it left me rather bored and wanting to put the book down. But for some reason, I couldn't ... and I persevered ... and I think I'm glad I did. (view spoiler)[Spoilers abound, in one way or another, because it is impossible to speak of this novel without them. Be warned, if you don't care to know what lies ahead. (hide spoiler)] . I say that only because while the Jewish Question left me rather befuddled as to what Eliot was trying to accomplish here, the parallel stories of Gwendolen Harleth and Daniel Deronda are captivating in their own right. Gwendolen is probably one of the most "modern" of women to come out of the Victorian writing scene -- her dilemma seems as suited to many women today, as it was to the condition of marriage in Victorian times. While I see that young women are seemingly moving forward independently with their lives, I see just as many who stay in sour and heartbreaking relationships because of financial reasons ... (and sometimes "because of the children"). Despite the magnificent strides we've made towards equality, there are many who struggle just as Gwendolen did. Her quest for autonomy, and self, mirror the angst I hear today: that search for "self-rule" hasn't lost any momentum in the 140+ years since this book was first published. In a parallel line, Daniel struggles with his own identity, his sense of self having been robbed by not knowing the conditions or origins of his birth. In an ironic twist of fate, as can only happen in novels, he is, by birth, exactly who he wants to be: born of Jewish parents with the birthright he had longed to claim, and which now is rightfully his. I'm completely befuddled with Eliot's attempt to inject the morality of Jewish nationalism and mysticism, especially as it is done in such a heavy-handed way. The reader finds it a struggle to weave through her convoluted reasoning -- more so because it doesn't feel that Eliot really knows what she wants to say. She simply jumps on a soap box, every 5 or 6 chapters, and rants to her heart's content, but to no purpose really. At the centre of this Jewish reclamation is Mordecai a "consumptive visionary", whose physical condition seems to mimic the strength of Eliot's own argument: he is weakening, dying, struggling for air, and never seems to stay on point. He leaves his legacy to be picked up by Daniel -- upon whom it is thrust. It is interesting to note that Mordecai thrusts the weight of the future on someone only newly-revealed to the faith, and who himself struggles simply to understand it, let alone pick up its banner. Daniel's passion is real, if somewhat misdirected, for by his own admission, he knows not what he is doing. The theme of consumption also rears its head in Gwendolen's life: consumed by her guilt for having robbed another woman of her due, she anguishes and withers into a mere shadow of her former self and is saved only by Daniel's faith in her. It is an irony in itself -- for she is saved by another man and not by her own strength: it is Daniel's faith in her that allows her to send him a letter to say "I will survive" rather than any intrinsic value she has garnered in herself. It is little wonder I felt exhausted by this book: much like many of the characters, I struggled for breath between chapters, finding myself symbolically gasping/grasping for connecting ideas. They do eventually come, but one has to work really hard at achieving this knowledge. This is not the usual George Eliot novel: I find reading her books as easy as falling off a log, into a slowly moving river; in this one, you fall into raging whitewater and struggle to keep from drowning in her convoluted ideology. Nonetheless ... I can't get Gwendolen or Daniel out of my head and find myself constantly re-evaluating what Eliot might have meant. I suppose it deserves a re-read, and I must admit, will probably do just that. But also, probably not any time soon. When I figure it all out, I'll come back to these pages to correct this rambling review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Utterly conventional in its romantic elements and unconvincing in its foray into Zionist politics. The strange doubling of unlikely family discoveries and terminal illnesses at first seems rife with emotional implications but upon reflection seems more like a failure of imagination on the author's part, an obsessive repetition of themes. (Mirah discovers her long-lost brother Mordecai only when he's at death's door; Deronda reunites with his long-lost mother only when she's about to die: but wha Utterly conventional in its romantic elements and unconvincing in its foray into Zionist politics. The strange doubling of unlikely family discoveries and terminal illnesses at first seems rife with emotional implications but upon reflection seems more like a failure of imagination on the author's part, an obsessive repetition of themes. (Mirah discovers her long-lost brother Mordecai only when he's at death's door; Deronda reunites with his long-lost mother only when she's about to die: but what do their confrontations with death mean? It never becomes clear, and the tragedy lies not in their deaths but in the original separations.) The novel is ultimately anti-romantic and bourgeois, punishing those who choose love or art as the highest value (Gwendolyn, Hans) and rewarding those who choose family and community, especially if that community is based on ethnicity (Mirah, Daniel). Grandcourt's death seems like a blow for justice, but his evil is pervasive enough to drain the complexity out of his sadistic relationship with Gwendolyn, and we are allowed to sympathize with neither character but only to pity them. Even Gwendolyn's hard-won journey from selfishness to concern for others is really just a sacrifice of her high-spirited individualism to the more banal needs of the community (no matter how much it looks like a conversion of prideful arrogance to Christian charity). An unsatisfying inversion of the typical tropes of Romantic literature, despite all of the supposedly moral lessons we learn.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)

    I have just finished a leisurely eight-week group-read of George Eliot's last completed novel, Daniel Deronda, with my 'Anglophiles Anonymous' group on Shelfari.com. I very much enjoyed the experience of reading and discussing the book, section by section, each week. I am convinced that I got so much more out of it this way than if I'd read it by myself. Without the incentive of the group-read, I am also quite sure that this is a novel that I probably would not have even acquired, much less read I have just finished a leisurely eight-week group-read of George Eliot's last completed novel, Daniel Deronda, with my 'Anglophiles Anonymous' group on Shelfari.com. I very much enjoyed the experience of reading and discussing the book, section by section, each week. I am convinced that I got so much more out of it this way than if I'd read it by myself. Without the incentive of the group-read, I am also quite sure that this is a novel that I probably would not have even acquired, much less read. The novel, first published in 1876, is quasi-Tolstoyan in scope and complexity. It has a whole raft of fairly interesting characters that border on being 'Dickensian.' While written in her characteristic style of 'social realism,' Eliot uses some quite elegant and sophisticated literary and plot devices too. For example, she is adept at using flashbacks to bounce characters and events back and forth in time. She also runs dual storylines through much of the novel, that are quite divergent at the beginning, but close in a relatively satisfying convergence near the end. Her use of allusion, allegory, and metaphor is deft and appropriate. Eliot, in writing this novel, is clearly didactic, without being overtly 'preachy' or academic like Tolstoy (e.g., Anna Karenina) or Victor Hugo (Les Miserables). In some respects, for much of the first half of the novel I found myself more interested in the character and plot-threads associated with Gwendolen Harleth versus that of the eponymous Daniel Deronda. Gwendolen reminded me, at various times, of Jane Austen's 'Emma' or even Eliot's own 'Dorothea Brooke' (Middlemarch). With the convergence of Gwendolen's storyline with that of Daniel's, I did find that Daniel's story and character became much more compelling and interesting. All in all, this is a novel about double-standards, redemption and balance. Eliot provides a fascinating portrait of the situation and lives of English and European Jews during the Victorian period, and particularly the nascent proto-Zionist movement and her interpretation of the Kaballistic philosophy. Eliot balances this portrait with a similar examination of the ways and social mores of the well-established English upper class. Eliot pulls off this balancing act superbly through having the novel's primary male protagonist, Daniel Deronda, having a foot in the both worlds. I was also completely taken with the intelligent young Jewish woman, Mirah Lapidoth. From her introduction, early on in the novel, I eagerly looked forward to her each of her appearances. The Meyrick family, especially Mrs. "Little Mother" Meyrick and her vivacious daughters, are splendidly wonderful characters. The novel also contains some characters that you simply love to hate, and others that you hate to love. Ambiguity and shades of gray abound. In conclusion, I enjoyed reading George Eliot's last novel, Daniel Deronda, very much. I can say, however, that it did not affect me in the same visceral and emotional sort of way that her earlier books have; specifically, The Mill on the Floss, or Silas Marner. I could also tell that writing Daniel Deronda and telling this story was somehow quite important to George Eliot, and for that reason alone I am glad that I read it. While perhaps not as monumental as her Middlemarch masterpiece, this is a big and meaty novel and well worth reading. Four out of five stars for me. *** [My review is based upon the 2003 Penguin Classics edition of Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot, 850 pages.:]

  21. 3 out of 5

    Jessica

    So a couple of years ago on . . . I dunno, PBS? BBC? I got hooked on a miniseries called Daniel Deronda, which was starring Hugh Dancy and Romola Garai (the reason why I tuned in) and based on a novel I had never heard of, by George Eliot, who I had heard of but never read anything by. Hooked. HOOKED, I TELL YOU! One is not expecting a story by an English lady authoress to suddenly delve into the plight of the Jewish people in Victorian England. One is not expecting mistresses and illegitimate ch So a couple of years ago on . . . I dunno, PBS? BBC? I got hooked on a miniseries called Daniel Deronda, which was starring Hugh Dancy and Romola Garai (the reason why I tuned in) and based on a novel I had never heard of, by George Eliot, who I had heard of but never read anything by. Hooked. HOOKED, I TELL YOU! One is not expecting a story by an English lady authoress to suddenly delve into the plight of the Jewish people in Victorian England. One is not expecting mistresses and illegitimate children to be talked of as though it were a matter of course. One is not expecting a beautiful young woman's emotionally abusive husband to be . . . Well, I shan't tell you what happens to HIM. You'll have to read it and find out! But do read it. Because the miniseries, though wonderful, does not quite capture the breathtaking scope of the book. I read the Barnes & Noble Classics edition, which I really liked because it has plenty of excellent footnotes, as well as an introduction to the novel, a biography of Eliot, and a timeline of her life. The introduction points out that this is not only the most globe-trotting book by Eliot, it's pretty much the most widely-spread novel of the time. Daniel Deronda and Co. travel the globe, as well as the length and breadth of England. There are also extensive (but not difficult to follow) flashbacks and flash-forewards, and two separate storylines throughout. And Daniel Deronda, like some sort of reluctant guardian angel, travels between both storylines, giving out good advice and saving people along the way. Daniel Deronda is an excellent hero, because he frankly could have turned out to be a preachy pain-in-the-ass, but Eliot always pulls back from going quite that far. He is a genuinely good person, who cannot turn away from a friend in need, particularly if that friend is a beautiful woman. He's also a very intelligent and educated person, which makes it believable when so many men seek him out for help. And he isn't proud of the fact that he's asked to advise literally everyone he meets, all the time. He's kind of alarmed by it, which is endearing. And then there's our girls. Oh, Eliot writes wonderful women! But in particular, we've got our two girls: Gwendolen Harleth, spoiled society miss, and her opposite, Mirah Lapidoth, shy, mis-used Jewess. Gwendolen just knows she was meant to lead a life of pampered luxury, and behaves accordingly. Mirah has spent her life on the stage, sought after by men for her beauty, and detests it because her father kidnapped her as a child and forced her into acting, making the supposedly glamorous life a kind of slavery for her. The story is as much their's as Deronda's, and Eliot switches between the three effortlessly. For a 700+ book, the pacing was excellent, and even her soliloquies about the Jewish faith, or the hardships of poverty, or the inadvisability of marrying simply for money, were all riveting. I was worried that the book would have a lot of preaching in it, it was apparently written after Eliot became close friends with a number of Jewish intellectuals and got involved in their fight for equality, but she managed to get her thoughts across without moralizing. And now I'm excited to read Middlemarch!

  22. 3 out of 5

    Grace Tjan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Daniel Deronda is not an easy book to read. If Middlemarch is a masterpiece of 19th century realism, Deronda is something else altogether. Like its predecessor, the narrative follows two main protagonists: Deronda, a young Englishman of uncertain parentage, and Gwendolen Harleth, a pretty, at times vain and spoiled daughter of a well-off family. The two meet by chance at the gambling hall of a swanky European watering place, where Gwendolen is doing her best to live in fashionable dissipation. T Daniel Deronda is not an easy book to read. If Middlemarch is a masterpiece of 19th century realism, Deronda is something else altogether. Like its predecessor, the narrative follows two main protagonists: Deronda, a young Englishman of uncertain parentage, and Gwendolen Harleth, a pretty, at times vain and spoiled daughter of a well-off family. The two meet by chance at the gambling hall of a swanky European watering place, where Gwendolen is doing her best to live in fashionable dissipation. The gentlemanly Deronda discreetly helps her when she loses everything at the roulette table. He doesn’t know that she is, in a sense, a runaway, and that her reason for being so is perfectly honorable. Gwendolen may share certain qualities with the shallow Rosamond Vincy in Middlemarch, but she is not entirely devoid of a sense of honor. Gwendolen has been running away from one Henleigh Grandcourt, a rich, indolent playboy who is only one life away from inheriting vast estates and a peerage. Everyone, including her widowed mother and country parson uncle think that he is a splendid catch for her. Except that Gwendolen has secretly found out that he had fathered a number of illegitimate children with another woman, whom he is now ready to discard to be able to marry her. As long as her family remains well off, she has no pressing need to marry, and she keeps fending him off. But then all the family money is lost in a speculative bubble, and what can a pretty, essentially uneducated girl of modest talents do? She wants to sing for her supper, but is told that she is not talented and tough enough to be a professional singer. The only other alternative is to be a governess, a desperate option that she despises. She is too dutiful a daughter to let her beloved mother and sisters live poorly in a dinky cottage. Therefore, she (with a little nudge from her newly impoverished family) convinces herself that after all, Grandcourt is a suitable husband material. He seems pliable enough, and with her beauty and forceful personality, she figures out that she will have the upper hand in that marriage. She is unaware that in Eliot’s universe, marriage is a noose and a husband likes to be master. Soon, she finds herself at the mercy of the possessive, passive-aggressive Grandcourt, a control freak of the first order who is jealous of his wife’s emotional dependence on Deronda. Gwendolen is an interesting character and her dysfunctional relationship with her husband is morbidly fascinating, but the Deronda side of the narrative suffers from the lack of character development. Deronda accidentally rescues a suicidal girl, Mirah, a Jewess who had ran away from her abusive father to find her family in London. He brings her to live with the family of Hans Meyrick, a painter friend whom he has helped in the past. In the course of searching for her long-lost relatives, Deronda develops an interest in Judaism, and under the influence of Mordecai, Mirah’s terminally ill brother, even becomes a Zionist sympathizer. But how can a goyim be a (proto) Zionist and also win the hand of Mirah the Jewess (who, despite being attracted to him is dead set against miscegenation)? Cue a letter from Deronda’s long lost mother, now Contessa Maria Alcharisi, who informs him that he IS a Jew (duh). She had given him up to be raised as an English gentleman when she decided to pursue her singing ambition. The character of the Contessa is probably the most interesting one in the Deronda strand, although she immediately exits the stage after discharging her plot duties. Among the three women who aspire to be singing stars (Gwendolen, Mirah and herself), the Contessa is the only one who manages to succeed. But to achieve it she had to abandon her son, family and race. Success for a woman always comes at a price, often a steep one. Deronda himself, despite being given lengthy, sometimes rambling monologues, is oddly amorphous as a character. We know that he is a rescuer of distressed damsels, and that he is almost saintly, but other than that he is a blank. Even his transformation from an English gentleman to a committed Zionist is not entirely convincing. It doesn’t help that the parts in which Eliot expounds about Judaism are perhaps aesthetically among the weakest in the book. It is mostly done through Mordecai’s rambling about ‘ruach-ha-kodesh’ and other bits of Jewish lore, as well as through scenes of a meeting, where talking heads discuss --- rather abstrusely --- proto-Zionist ideas. Eliot clearly had researched the subject extensively, but the regurgitated knowledge that she presents to the reader is patchy and quite tedious to read. Mordecai himself is so much the Suffering Jew that he virtually has no personality, a fact that holds true for most of the Jewish characters. It is surely laudable that Eliot strived to present Jewish characters in a positive light in the midst of rampant anti-Semitism in Victorian Britain, but what is gained in positive characterization is lost in the believability of the characters themselves. The Jews are too busy being model minorities to be real people. Meanwhile, Gwendolen’s increasingly creepy husband drags her across Europe on a trip, which primary object seems to be to put the farthest distance between her and Deronda. While boating off Genoa, he accidentally drowns, thus releasing Gwendolen from the ‘empire of fear’ that he had created. Deronda, who happens to be there to meet his mother, rescues her. He notes that, while she herself did not do the deed, she actively desired her husband’s death. He also discovers that, in a vindictive move, Grandcourt had altered his will to prevent Gwendolen from inheriting the bulk of his property, bequeathing it to his illegitimate son instead. The novel’s end is inconclusive; Gwendolen learns to stoically accept her situation and Deronda, after marrying Mirah, sets off for Palestine. Despite a happy ending for Deronda and Mirah, the tone of the novel is somber, with very little of the sarcastic wit and humor that enliven Middlemarch. At certain parts, Eliot seems to abandon realism and descends into melodrama and insipid characterization, which makes it hard to continue reading. If you absolutely have to read one Eliot novel, pick Middlemarch instead. 3.5 stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Poiema

    [SPOILER ALERT] After closing the page on this long novel, it lingers on in my mind and I've been trying to digest it well enough so that I may do it justice in my review. It is a complex and elegantly written novel, almost prophetic in its day (1876)---just at the cusp of the Zionist movement. The first chapter failed to engage me and I nearly aborted the read because of it, but that chapter would later fit like a puzzle piece into the big scheme of things. I am so glad I kept reading, because [SPOILER ALERT] After closing the page on this long novel, it lingers on in my mind and I've been trying to digest it well enough so that I may do it justice in my review. It is a complex and elegantly written novel, almost prophetic in its day (1876)---just at the cusp of the Zionist movement. The first chapter failed to engage me and I nearly aborted the read because of it, but that chapter would later fit like a puzzle piece into the big scheme of things. I am so glad I kept reading, because this is the work of a mature writer, a work of true substance. Daniel Deronda seems at first to take a backseat to the lovely but narcissistic Gwendolyn (she kisses herself in the mirror!) and for a while I wondered why the book wasn't titled after HER? My research tells me that I wasn't the first person to have this thought; back in the day others wanted to expunge the title character because he was Jewish. There really are the makings of two novels here, but it would weaken certain aspects of the telling if they were separated. For one thing, Eliot needed Gwendolyn to spotlight the moral failings of proper English society AND she needed Deronda to play the role of conscience. The Jewish scriptures mark them as a "light to the Gentiles," and that is exactly the role that Deronda played, even though for most of the novel he did not know he was a Jew. It strikes me that Deronda's life---without roots or rank or having a settled role in society---was meant to epitomize the state of the Jews who were scattered amongst the nations and without a homeland. His intelligence, moral compass, and humanitarian leanings created a beautifully developed character. I felt his counterpart, the poor Jewess, was drawn with less complexity and with a romantic/pathetic brush. Gwendolyn stood in stark contrast to Deronda. She was beautiful, well-married, ranked high in society but was morally bankrupt. Deronda had the ability to fan the tiny spark of a conscience within her into a steadily growing flame. He truly sensitized her to the considerable powers she held within, powers he encouraged her to use for the bettering of others instead of for selfish purposes. When reading the sections about Gwendolyn, I sometimes felt like I was reading Jane Austen. Her way of bringing the reader into the subtleties of English society---the wit, the raised eyebrow, the blushes--- were painstakingly detailed and elegantly portrayed. It is said that this novel helped to fan the flames of Zionism. I first jotted down the title for my "to read" list when it was mentioned in Eliezer Ben Yehuda's biography, Tongue of the Prophets and am glad that I followed up on it. Every possible argument for and against a Jewish homeland is espoused within its pages, which gives it historical value. I loved it, however, for many reasons and would highly recommend it if you enjoy Victorian/British literature.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    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 nua 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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    I wrote my senior thesis on this novel, lo some quarter century ago. Listening to it on audiobook via my beloved Juliet Stevenson had a Flowers for Algernon quality. I know I once had very deep thoughts about the intersection of colonialism and feminism in this last and not least of Eliot's novels. I caught echoes of that this time around, and certainly Deronda's status as the chosen proto-Zionist (and a few choice passages on the comfortable status of the assimilated Jews in Germany) have the s I wrote my senior thesis on this novel, lo some quarter century ago. Listening to it on audiobook via my beloved Juliet Stevenson had a Flowers for Algernon quality. I know I once had very deep thoughts about the intersection of colonialism and feminism in this last and not least of Eliot's novels. I caught echoes of that this time around, and certainly Deronda's status as the chosen proto-Zionist (and a few choice passages on the comfortable status of the assimilated Jews in Germany) have the same time machine eeriness as they did then. And what oh what of Daniel's foreskin, the missing signifier that generated much analysis (and giggling) in my senior seminar? Largely though, my middle-aged brain can no longer build those giddy undergraduate castles in the air (or on the screen of an Apple II, as the case may have been). Mostly, this time around, I was able to just enjoy Eliot's glorious prose tripping off Stevenson's no less gifted tongue. It shall always have been better with me for having known Eliot, and Daniel, and Gwendolyn and all.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder

    This is not a quick or easy read. There are parts that I should have reread, but this is hard to do when reading an eBook, so I missed some things. After reading Middlemarch I was disappointed in this book. Though Gwendolen was an unlikable spoiled girl at the outset, I thought she was a more interesting character than the character Daniel himself. This was a serious flaw for me that a novel called "Daniel Deronda" the eponymous character himself was upstaged by another character in terms of holdin This is not a quick or easy read. There are parts that I should have reread, but this is hard to do when reading an eBook, so I missed some things. After reading Middlemarch I was disappointed in this book. Though Gwendolen was an unlikable spoiled girl at the outset, I thought she was a more interesting character than the character Daniel himself. This was a serious flaw for me that a novel called "Daniel Deronda" the eponymous character himself was upstaged by another character in terms of holding my interest. Daniel himself and was boring. Though George Eliotwanted to present Jewish characters in a sympathetic way, I thought her portrayals of the Cohen's was riddled with stereotypes. George Eliot despite her intentions, couldn't rise above stereotypes.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    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.

  28. 3 out of 5

    Michelle

    This was no Middlemarch, but I do think it's amazing that I can still enjoy a book by an author who has been dead a little over 120 years. There were a few really great one-liners in there which show what a comic genius Eliot could be. There were also some beautiful sentiments about relationships and the constraints put on women during Eliot's time (seen at times in Gwendolen's character, but mostly in Daniel's mother). My criticism of the novel was that Eliot spent a lot of time developing Gwend This was no Middlemarch, but I do think it's amazing that I can still enjoy a book by an author who has been dead a little over 120 years. There were a few really great one-liners in there which show what a comic genius Eliot could be. There were also some beautiful sentiments about relationships and the constraints put on women during Eliot's time (seen at times in Gwendolen's character, but mostly in Daniel's mother). My criticism of the novel was that Eliot spent a lot of time developing Gwendolen Harleth as a character, but not so much time on Daniel Deronda or Mirah; the woman he eventually loves. Maybe it's that I've been reading too many 'guilty pleasure' books lately, but Daniel was a little too pious for me. I heard that Mr. Darcy (who is one of my favorite male characters ever) didn't have anything on Daniel Deronda, so I was really excited to read the book, but I didn't find that to be the case. I'll take Darcy and Elizabeth any day. What was interesting about the novel was Eliot's use of flashback, and her extensive study of Jewish history before she wrote the novel. Not being Jewish myself, it was fascinating for me to read a bit of their history and beliefs.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Laura

    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 s 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.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maximilian Nightingale

    How does she do it? In this novel, Eliot writes a novel which shares a theme or two from her others, and yet presents characters that greatly differ from any other. I hate to spoil anything, so I will only give the barest outline of the beginning: In the opening scene, we see a woman lose at gambling, and a man come to her aid. The next 100 pages show how the woman, Gwendolen Harleth, arrived at that point; the following 100 pages, describe how Daniel arrived at that moment at the outset of the How does she do it? In this novel, Eliot writes a novel which shares a theme or two from her others, and yet presents characters that greatly differ from any other. I hate to spoil anything, so I will only give the barest outline of the beginning: In the opening scene, we see a woman lose at gambling, and a man come to her aid. The next 100 pages show how the woman, Gwendolen Harleth, arrived at that point; the following 100 pages, describe how Daniel arrived at that moment at the outset of the book. From that point, a new element is introduced that gives the whole book a distinctive character. I will say no more than that on the plot. As always, Eliot has the most beautiful prose and is always leading her reader into sympathy with her characters. Highly recommended.

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