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Daniel Deronda (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Daniel Deronda (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

3.6 49
by George Eliot, Earl L. Dachslager (Introduction)

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Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:


Daniel Deronda, by George Eliot, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

George Eliot’s last, most ambitious novel, Daniel Deronda aroused scandal when it first appeared in 1876. What begins as a passionate love story takes a surprising turn into the hidden world of the early Zionist movement in Victorian England.

The story opens memorably at a roulette table, where we first meet the young and idealistic Daniel Deronda and the enchanting Gwendolen Harleth—whom many critics consider to be George Eliot’s finest creation. Although the two are immediately drawn to one another, Gwendolen—outwardly alluring and vivacious, inwardly complex and unsettled—is forced by circumstance into an oppressive marriage with the harsh aristocratic Henleigh Grandcourt.

Deeply unhappy, she turns for friendship to Daniel, only to discover his involvement with Mirah Lapidoth, a talented young Jewish woman. Torn between his devotion to Gwendolen and his passion for Mirah and the plight of her people, Daniel is forced to look at his own mysterious past and find out who he really is—and who he wants to become.

Earl L. Dachslager is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Houston and an adjunct professor in the University’s Distant Education Program. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Maryland. He reviews books regularly for the Houston Chronicle.

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Barnes & Noble
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Barnes & Noble Classics Series
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7.96(w) x 5.32(h) x 1.73(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Earl Dachslager’s Introduction to Daniel Deronda

In itself, Daniel Deronda’s position as Eliot’s last novel lends it some significance, but, far more important, Daniel Deronda represents Eliot’s summing up, the book in which she hoped to bring together all the values, ideals, and beliefs that had informed her earlier work. In short, Daniel Deronda was not simply Eliot’s final novel, it was her final letter to the world. That she herself was aware that Daniel Deronda was her fictional finale is made clear from her notes and letters. She recorded in her diary for December 31, 1877 (her final entry): “But of course as the years advance there is a new rational ground for the expectation that my life may become less fruitful. . . . Many conceptions of works to be carried out present themselves, but confidence in my own fitness to complete them worthily is all the more wanting because it is reasonable to argue that I must have already done my best” (Haight, ed. Selections from George Eliot’s Letters, pp. 493–494 [henceforth, Letters]; see “For Further Reading”).

From the beginning, Eliot’s books cost her an enormous outlay of energy—physical and emotional. Each book brought with it anxiety and the desperate feeling that not only would the book never be completed but also that in the end it would be worthless. She had arrived at the conviction that authors should stop when they had no more to say. But even if she had the energy and desire to write another “big book,” they likely vanished when Lewes died, at age sixty-one, on November 30, 1878; he had been her partner and champion for nearly twenty-five years and, to some degree, her creator. “Without George Henry Lewes,” Kathryn Hughes wrote, in her excellent biography of Eliot, “there could have been no George Eliot” (George Eliot: The Last Victorian, p. 327).

Daniel Deronda thus stands as the culmination of a series of novels that began twenty years earlier with the publication of Scenes of Clerical Life (1858). But in some original and singular respects, Daniel Deronda may also be viewed as Eliot’s first fictional creation.

For one thing, of all of Eliot’s novels Daniel Deronda is by far the most global, the one with the widest range of national and international references. Geographically, Daniel Deronda takes the reader to London, Paris, Prague, Vienna, Rome, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Mainz, Genoa, Trieste, Beirut (or “Beyrout” as Eliot spells it), Sardinia, Corsica, Ajaccio, Palestine, and New York—a globe-hopping journey that in itself makes Daniel Deronda unique among Eliot’s novels. For that reason, it has often been called the first international novel. Writing in the Nation the year Daniel Deronda was published, Henry James praised the novel for its “multitudinous world” and “its widening narrative” (quoted in Haight, A Century of George Eliot Criticism, pp. 92–93).

Also unique is that Daniel Deronda is the only novel Eliot wrote that is set close to her own time. The action of the novel takes place over two years, between October 1864 and October 1866, and begins in September 1865 (see note 1). Thus the events of the story take place approximately ten years before the book was published, which makes it Eliot’s most contemporary novel and the one that is most connected to topics current in her day.

Daniel Deronda is also Eliot’s most original novel in its construction (anticipated, to some degree, by her 1859 gothic story “The Lifted Veil”), one of the earliest examples in English prose fiction of what would become the hallmark of much modern literature: the replacement of the straightforward, linear plot—beginning, middle, end—with a disrupted, nonlinear plot that depends on both flashbacks and flash-forwards.

The effect of the narrative’s temporal and spatial shifts is to give the story the illusion of movement in time and space and to make the main characters appear as a Victorian version of jet-setters. Unlike Eliot’s provincial novels—Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), and Silas Marner (1861)—Daniel Deronda is not a book about rural England or even fifteenth-century Florence, the setting of Eliot’s 1863 novel Romola, but about Europe, the Middle East, and even America, where Mirah Lapidoth has been. To this extent, Daniel Deronda is Eliot’s most expansive novel and one of the most far-ranging in nineteenth-century literature.

But even more radical than its bold use of time and space—certainly more daring for its day—is the novel’s movement across social, political, psychological, and literary boundaries. Such transitions and transformations result from what the novel is about: the conflicts and connections, differences and similarities, between two separate but related worlds—the “Jewish” world and the “English” world, the first represented primarily by Daniel Deronda and Mordecai Lapidoth; the second by Gwendolen Harleth, her mother, and their social community.

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Daniel Deronda (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I do not know anyone who has ever read this book and had never heard of it, but what an unexpected surprise it was. I had a hard time putting it down. Follows the lives of two main characters - Gwendolyn - who reminded me of Scarlett O'Hara and Deronda- a man with a good and genuine heart. There is also the pompous Grandcourt character you just want to punch! Great plot - will keep the pages turning. Only negative (which can easily be skipped through without missing anything)was that some of the religious philosophy of Mordecai was a bit too wordy for me. However, you will not be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I consider myself a fan of the nineteenth century British novel, but never have I read one as unputdownable as Daniel Deronda. Eliot mangages to craft a novel with texture as rich and complex as a Flemish tapestry, without ever slackening the pace of a riveting story. In Deronda himself she creates a hero whose unimpeachable moral integrity is balanced by a touching personal vulnerability. None of her characters, down to the members of Society who attend the balls and soirees to utter one line and be forgotten, are flat. I found Daniel Deronda to be a brilliant, evocative book, and a hugely satisfying read.
blkeyesuzi More than 1 year ago
Give yourself an opportunity to read a true classic and escape into a completely different time and place. Victorian England lays the stage as two major dramas unfold. Follow strong-willed Gwendolyn as she learns what it is that her heart really desires when she is forced to make a life-changing decision, thus realizing she is stronger than she ever imagined. Meanwhile Daniel Deronda saves a young woman from drowning and finds himself trying to unlock the mystery of her past and becomes all the more intrigued with her and the truths he uncovers. Daniel's search for truth about her past may ultimately bring him closer to knowledge of himself...Is he willing to change who he has believed himself to be all this time? I love a novel that is smart and well thought-out. No wonder this one is a classic! Beautifully rich characters. Great story!!! LOVED IT!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great writer's moral passion embraces the Zionist cause in this complex and intricate novel.If not her greatest work certainly one worth careful reading and study.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a moving, riviting, and spiritual thing. It has everything anyone is looking for in a good read. If you like the book,...buy the movie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ivy~~Ferns then tries to rember where the book is and utterly fails. (All my searched got dleted during my absense.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Thank thee, thy Majesty." When she was seated, she held the reigns. "Care to ride alongside me? Or is thy Highness to busy in courting the Princess Snow?" Her eyes held a teasing gleam.
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popeyeswench More than 1 year ago
Daniel Deronda is immensely quotable with such lines as, “I think I dislike what I don't like more than I like what I like.” And, “Ignorance gives one a large range of probabilities.” And, “I shall never love anybody. I can't love people. I hate them.” The aristocracy are great in Eliot’s hand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I made it through all the scanning errors and - end of part one...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Horrible digital transfer
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Overall, an enjoyable read, and quite different from anything that I've read from the Victorian era. But first a word of caution, Eliot's writing tends to be extremely dense, and if you're looking for a fast and easy read, this is not it. Eliot may spend pages on the inner thoughts of her characters, and many readers of more contemporary fiction would find it quite dry. I'm not going to lie, I myself do prefer the more jaunty and colorful writings of authors like Dickens, but hers are far from meritless, and this book left me feeling far more intellectually satisfied, than say, after I read the works of my favourite, Dickens. This book played with my affection throughout its course. I did find Gwendolen marvelously wicked and clever in the beginning and (I hate to say it) reminded me quite a bit of myself, headstrong and determined that the world moves only for me. Though toward the end, I started to find her contriteness and moral idolization of Daniel a little annoying and repetitive. But I suppose what makes her a great character is her varying degrees of contriteness and self absorption, for after all, she did feel disgusted with her own self-centeredness. On the other hand, I would have enjoyed the book far more if the character of Daniel was a little less stoic and, like Gwendolen, possessed varying levels of good and bad, instead of being always so very morally upright, forgiving, and high-minded (Oh, I want to set out and change the world! and the like). But the part of the book that I found particularly different and was the Jewish portion. It took the reader out of the genteel English drawing rooms that normally characterize Victorian fiction, and took one inside the English-Jewish subculture (England did in fact have a large Jewish population) and their domestic lives (unlike Dickens' novels that highlight a few sleazy red-headed Jewish characters). But at times Mordecai's philosophy did become a bit wearing. Therefore my feelings fluctuated throughout the book (it did get particularly enjoyable towards the end, and was not without its comic occurrences) and in the end left me not ecstatic but fully satisfied.
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