George Eliot – Daniel Deronda (1876)

Begins with the English plot: Daniel sees Gwendolen at a roulette table (in Germany), finds her attractive, sees her pawn a necklace (which he buys back and returns to her). Flashback to when Gwendolen meets Henleigh Grandcourt, whom she almost marries until finding out that he has a separate family with Miss Glasher. She flees. Meanwhile, Daniel (who is being raised by Sir Hugo Mallinger) sees Mirah Lapidoth floating in the river. He saves her, and eventually gets mixed up with Mordecai Cohen, the consumptive Jewish mystic who dreams of Gemeinschaft and utopia. Meanwhile, Gwendolen tries to avoid marriage by becoming a singer but Klesmer tells her straight that she’s not an artist, only a dilettante. She eventually marries Grandcourt, thinking she can tame him, but she fails. They go to Italy on their honeymoon, where Grandcourt drowns (Gwendolen hesitates to save him and is then racked with guilt). Daniel is in the same town, where he meets his mother, Princess Halm Eberstein. She tells him that she was asked to raise him as an English gentleman with no knowledge of his Jewishness. He returns feeling better about his connection to Mirah, marries her. Gwendolen, in love with Daniel, is rejected by him, and instead she gets a little moral lesson by being good, etc. She eventually writes a litter on Daniel’s wedding day telling him she has been made better. Mordecai dies, and Dan and Mirah set off to the East to help the Jewish race.

 

The double plot. Relate to Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy. Different temporalities. Stultified English cultue vs. vibrant Jewish gemeinschaft. Different ethical systems. Read out of Hume and Smith, look forward to Levinas. Displacing, getting rid of the protagonist, the narratable exceeding the narrative (cf. Miller).

The thread, its relation to history

Insect metaphors (relate to Darwin)

Cynthia Chase argument “Double-reading”

Amanda Anderson on Jews and Deronda

Daniel as aimless type

Cosmopolitanism

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