Oh dear, I was supposed to be rereading this over a couple of months with a book group but it s so darn gripping even on a second read that I ve ended up rushing ahead and finishing it due to the proverbial couldn t put it down My original review is below but on this reread I was struck by the extent to which Eliot seems to be setting up sections that duplicate well known literary scenarios the section where Grandcourt leases the great house and sets off marital expectations and plans Oh dear, I was supposed to be rereading this over a couple of months with a book group but it s so darn gripping even on a second read that I ve ended up rushing ahead and finishing it due to the proverbial couldn t put it down My original review is below but on this reread I was struck by the extent to which Eliot seems to be setting up sections that duplicate well known literary scenarios the section where Grandcourt leases the great house and sets off marital expectations and plans in local families is so Pride Prejudice, and there s a Sense Sensibility feel a little later view spoiler when Gwen s mother and aunt lose all their money, and they have to downsize to a cottage albeit one with four bedrooms hide spoiler But Eliot sets up these comparisons only to knock them down a far harsher social reality is given rein in this book, and we have a portrait of one of the scariest marriages, surely, in literature.Motifs of women singing and acting tie the two main stories together in interesting ways, inviting us to compare and contrast Gwen and Mirah view spoiler and, later, Daniel s mother hide spoiler , and the ending is left somewhat open, albeit in a satisfying way.I can get anxious rereading a beloved book in case it doesn t stand up so well a second time no problem here, this is still both a wonderful read and a radical departure for the Victorian novel Although academically Middlemarch is always regarded as Eliot s masterpiece, I ve always thought this novel deserves the title The characters are nuanced and it s important that Gwendolen starts off as being a conventional spoilt beauty because that makes her growth and change all thecompelling and significant.As a woman writing in 19th century England, Eliot bravely highlights the impacts of poverty and the implications for women who are forced to prostitute themselves effectively in the marriage market, since a career is out of the question This is the dark underside of Jane Austen and an important antidote to that sunny view of male female relationships and the economic reality behind them.The other brave element in this book is the theme of Jewishness which was glossed over in most of the literature of this period It is the clash and interraction of the two related prejudices of gender and race religion that give this book its resonance and importance and its relevance to today 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 attemptedthan 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 theintense 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 A beautiful young woman stands poised over the gambling tables in an expensive hotel She is aware of, and resents, the gaze of an unusual young man, a stranger, who seems to judge her, and find her wanting The encounter will change her lifeThe strange young man is Daniel Deronda, brought up with his own origins shrouded in mystery, searching for a compelling outlet for his singular talents and remarkable capacity for empathy Deronda s destiny will change the lives of many 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 contemRe 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 lifebearable 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 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 isof an anti heroine than heroine Like Lydia Bennet, she s out first and foremost for a good time, except she s cleverer andcalculating 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, doingor 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 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 Once upon a time, I was on a long train journey, and one of my compartment s neighbors, watching me reading for a lengthy period in a frozen silence, asked me which word in human s vocabulary was the most valuable My reply was spontaneously uttered, Love The man was surprised He said he had expected me to answer soul or God I just laughed and replied, Love is enough as Love is God Well, it should be enough But, maybe not any Anyway, at that time I certainly felt that while rai Once upon a time, I was on a long train journey, and one of my compartment s neighbors, watching me reading for a lengthy period in a frozen silence, asked me which word in human s vocabulary was the most valuable My reply was spontaneously uttered, Love The man was surprised He said he had expected me to answer soul or God I just laughed and replied, Love is enough as Love is God Well, it should be enough But, maybe not any Anyway, at that time I certainly felt that while raising on the ray of love, one can enter the enlightened kingdom of everything that God has created In a way, but again depending on the key of interpretation, it is better to say that love is God than to say that truth is God, because the harmony, the beauty, the vitality, the joy and the bliss that are part of love are not part of truth Truth is to be known, heard, voiced love is to be felt, experienced, as well as known The growth and perfection of love lead to the ultimate merger with God, whatever that means for each of us.We like it or not, the greatest poverty of all is the absence of love The man who has not developed the capacity to love lives in a private hell of his own A man who is filled with love is in heaven earthly or not, it doesn t matter, it s enough if it s also mentally and physically, spiritually experienced A human can be seen as a wonderful and unique plant, a plant that is capable of producing both nectar and poison If a man lives by hate he reaps a harvest of poison if he lives by love he gathers blossoms laden with nectar I guess each one has a similar experience Like it or not, one cannot avoid it If I mould my life and live it with the well being of everything in mind, that is love But Love results from the awareness that you are not separate, not different from anything else in existence I am in you you are in me This love is religious and it is the truest one.I replied that love is God That is to me the ultimate truth But, love also exists within the family unit This is the first step on the journey to love, and the ultimate can never happen if the beginning has been absent Love is responsible for the existence of the family and when the family unit moves apart and its members spread out into society, love increases and grows When a man s family has finally grown to incorporate all of mankind, his love becomes one with God.Without love a human being is just an individual, an ego He has no family he has no link with other people This is gradual death Life, on the other hand, is interrelation Love surpasses the duality of the ego This alone is truth The man who thirsts for truth must first develop his capacity to love to the point where the difference between the lover and the beloved disappears and only love remains When the light of love is freed from the duality of lover and the beloved, when it is freed from the haze of seer and seen, when only the light of pure love shines brightly, that is freedom and liberation Or, better said, that s supreme freedom.I wondered what I could say about love Love is so difficult to describe Love is just there You could probably see it in my eyes if you came up and looked into them I wonder if you can feel it as my arms spread in an embrace.Love.What is love If love is not felt in my eyes, in my arms, in my silence, then it can never be realized from my words.Quotes My dear boy, you are too young to be taking momentous, decisive steps of that sort This is a fancy which you have got into your head during an idle week or two you must set to work at something and dismiss it There is every reason against it An engagement at your age would be totally rash and unjustifiable and over, alliances between first cousins are undesirable Make up your mind to a brief disappointment Life is full of them We have all got to be broken in and this is a mild beginning for you In any case, she would have to submit and he enjoyed thinking of her as his future wife, whose pride and spirit were suited to command everyone but himself He had no taste for a woman who was all tenderness to him, full of petitioning solicitude and willing obedience He meant to be master of a woman who would have liked to master him, and who perhaps would have been capable of mastering another man he had wanted to marry Gwendolen, and he was not a man to repent Why should a gentleman whose other relations in life are carried on without the luxury of sympathetic feeling, be supposed to require that kind of condiment in domestic life What he chiefly felt was that a change had come over the conditions of his mastery, which, far from shaking it, might establish it thethoroughly And it was established He judged that he had not married a simpleton unable to perceive the impossibility of escape, or to see alternative evils he had married a girl who had spirit and pride enough not to make a fool of herself by forfeiting all the advantages of a position which had attracted her and if she wanted pregnant hints to help her in making up her mind properly he would take care not to withhold them When you undertook to be Mrs Grandcourt, you undertook not to make a fool of yourself You have been making a fool of yourself this morning and if you were to go on as you have begun, you might soon get yourself talked of at the clubs in a way you would not like What do you know about the world You have married me, and must be guided by my opinion Her griefs were feminine but to her as a woman they were not the less hard to bear, and she felt an equal right to the Promethean tone she had a confused state of emotion about Deronda was it wounded pride and resentment, or a certain awe and exceptional trust though it was her hunger to speak to him which had set her imagination on constructing this chance of finding him, and had made her hurry down, as birds hover near the water which they dare not drink Always uneasily dubious about his opinion of her, she felt a peculiar anxiety to day, lest he might think of her with contempt, as one triumphantly conscious of being Grandcourt s wife, the future lady of this domain It was her habitual effort now to magnify the satisfactions of her pride, on which she nourished her strength but somehow Deronda s being there disturbed them all There was not the faintest touch of coquetry in the attitude of her mind toward him he was unique to her among men, because he had impressed her as being not her admirer but her superior in some mysterious way he was becoming a part of her conscience, as one woman whose nature is an object of reverential belief may become a new conscience to a man It did not signify that the other gentlemen took the opportunity of being near her of what use in the world was their admiration while she had an uneasy sense that there was some standard in Deronda s mind which measured her into littleness Poor Gwendolen was conscious of an uneasy, transforming process all the old nature shaken to its depths, its hopes spoiled, its pleasures perturbed, but still showing wholeness and strength in the will to reassert itself After every new shock of humiliation she tried to adjust herself and seize her old supports proud concealment, trust in new excitements that would make life go by without much thinking trust in some deed of reparation to nullify her self blame and shield her from a vague, ever visiting dread of some horrible calamity trust in the hardening effect of use and wont that would make her indifferent to her miseries.Yes miseries This beautiful, healthy young creature, with her two and twenty years and her gratified ambition, no longer felt inclined to kiss her fortunate image in the glass She looked at it with wonder that she could be so miserable Gwendolen s appetite had sickened Let her wander over the possibilities of her life as she would, an uncertain shadow dogged her Her confidence in herself and her destiny had turned into remorse and dread she trusted neither herself nor her future With all the sense of inferiority that had been forced upon her, it was inevitable that she should imagine a larger place for herself in his thoughts than she actually possessed They must be rather old and wise persons who are not apt to see their own anxiety or elation about themselves reflected in other minds and Gwendolen, with her youth and inward solitude, may be excused for dwelling on signs of special interest in her shown by the one person who had impressed her with the feeling of submission, and for mistaking the color and proportion of those signs in the mind of Deronda But, as always happens with a deep interest, the comparatively rare occasions on which she could exchange any words with Deronda had a diffusive effect in her consciousness, magnifying their communication with each other, and therefore enlarging the place she imagined it to have in his mind How could Deronda help this He certainly did not avoid her rather he wished to convince her by every delicate indirect means that her confidence in him had not been indiscreet since it had not lowered his respect Moreover, he liked being near her how could it be otherwise She was somethingthan a problem she was a lovely woman, for the turn of whose mind and fate he had a care which, however futile it might be, kept soliciting him as a responsibility, perhaps all thethat, when he dared to think of his own future, he saw it lying far away from this splendid sad hearted creature, who, because he had once been impelled to arrest her attention momentarily, as he might have seized her arm with warning to hinder her from stepping where there was danger, had turned to him with a beseeching persistent need To most men their early home is nothan a memory of their early years, and I m not sure but they have the best of it The image is never marred There s no disappointment in memory, and one s exaggerations are always on the good side No, said the Princess, shaking her head and folding her arms with an air of decision You are not a woman You may try but you can never imagine what it is to have a man s force of genius in you, and yet to suffer the slavery of being a girl To have a pattern cut out this is the Jewish woman this is what you must be this is what you are wanted for a woman s heart must be of such a size and no larger, else it must be pressed small, like Chinese feet her happiness is to be made as cakes are, by a fixed receipt That was what my father wanted He wished I had been a son he cared for me as a make shift link His heart was set on his Judaism He hated that Jewish women should be thought of by the Christian world as a sort of ware to make public singers and actresses of As if we were not theenviable for that That is a chance of escaping from bondage Thursday It may take me a while to review this I am en route to Scotland for a walking weekend and in any case I m not sure anything I say can do it justice Sunday Daniel Deronda is Eliot s last novel, and I have wanted to read it ever since reading Sophie and the Sybil by Patricia Duncker a couple of years ago In that book Duncker reimagined the circumstances that led Eliot to create the book, and Sophie has much in common with the wilful and impulsive Gwendolen Harleth, one of Eliot s t Thursday It may take me a while to review this I am en route to Scotland for a walking weekend and in any case I m not sure anything I say can do it justice Sunday Daniel Deronda is Eliot s last novel, and I have wanted to read it ever since reading Sophie and the Sybil by Patricia Duncker a couple of years ago In that book Duncker reimagined the circumstances that led Eliot to create the book, and Sophie has much in common with the wilful and impulsive Gwendolen Harleth, one of Eliot s two major characters.The book is big, complex and surprisingly modern at times, telling the parallel but ultimately separate stories of Gwendolen and Daniel Daniel has been brought up as the ward of an English gentleman, and the story is largely about his rediscovery of his Jewish roots.I don t want to say too muchat this stage because the book is the subject of a group discussion at Reading the Chunksters for the next couple of months, and I don t want to preempt that discussion THE DIPTYCH This novel was renewed my interest on how George Eliot wrote I am highly tempted to readabout 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 th THE DIPTYCH This novel was renewed my interest on how George Eliot wrote I am highly tempted to readabout 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, speakingoften 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 lan 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 becomesandan 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 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 Further, the book did not necessarily endear itself to meover 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 Further, the book did not necessarily endear itself to meover 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 beinginteresting, even if not likable, than othersShe had a na ve 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 glassThe 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 marriageHer observation of matrimony had inclined her to think it rather a dreary state in which a woman could not do what she liked, hadchildren than were desirable, was consequently dull, and became irrevocably immersed in humdrumSaucy 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 Derondahad 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 tiesThroughout 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 identitylet 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 WestSeveralplayers 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 thelaborious portions of it I have to say that it is my least favorite so far Both Middlemarch and The Mill on the Floss were muchreadable 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 ofdifficult tomes I have completed 3.5 stars 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