Daniel Deronda (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Daniel Deronda (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082901
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 02/01/2005
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 784
Sales rank: 104,533
Product dimensions: 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) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 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!
Cosmickate on LibraryThing 23 days ago
Daniel Deronda is one of the most admirable and remarkable characters I've ever encountered. He is saintly and kind but he hasn't been very dynamic in the novel. However, Gwendolyn Harneth takes the place of the female protagonist who was a spoiled brat at first but has encountered so many strifes, brought about by the consequences of her actions, which led her to a painful curve towards learning. Eliot's attempt to explore Jewish mysticism is difficult to muddle through, even with copious footnotes. I love this book but I'm looking forward to read Mill of the Floss and Middlemarch this year so I am not certain which one I will like best until I read the others.
gbill on LibraryThing 29 days ago
There are few times when I find myself completely agreeing with critics of the books I read, but in the case of "Daniel Deronda" (1876) I found the observation from F.R. Leavis that the book ought to have been split in half and the good part be published separately under the title "Gwendolen Harleth" dead-on. For "Daniel Deronda" has two main story lines which are only loosely coupled, and while the one featuring haughty and spiritually bereft Gwendolen Harleth sizzles from the first page ("Was she beautiful or not beautiful?"), the other, featuring the Jewish characters Mirah, Mordecai, and Daniel drag the book down. Comparing the book to her masterpiece "Middlemarch" may be unfair, but what's missing is its breadth of characters and life; in the Deronda portions of the book in particular Eliot is too heavy-handed and often falls into over-analysis. There are some who will recoil at occasional overt anti-semitic statements; I cut Eliot some slack because (1) as with other authors we must remember the time in which she wrote, (2) the overall message about the profundity of the Jewish faith embodied in its spiritual characters is quite positive, and (3) Eliot was about 20 years ahead of her time in suggesting that a separate Israeli state be created (Herzl's "The Jewish State" was published in 1896), though she was a bit naive ("there will be a land set for a halting-place of enmities, a neutral ground..." Ha!). It's also clear from a letter she wrote to Harriet Beecher Stowe that her intentions were 100% good.The character of Gwendolen is memorable, as is her marriage to the reptilian Grandcourt, who slowly but surely squeezes the life out of her like a boa constrictor. If the book could have been 200-300 pages shorter such that the Deronda portions were present but streamlined and a subplot, it would have been far better.Quotes:On marriage:"...to become a wife and wear all the domestic fetters of that condition, was on the whole a vexatious necessity. 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. Of course marriage was social promotion; she could not look forward to a single life; but promotions have sometimes to be taken with bitter herbs...""Perhaps other men's lives were of the same kind - full of secrets which made the ignorant suppositions of the women they wanted to marry a farce at which they were laughing in their sleeves."Further, on women's position in the world:"We women can't go in search of adventures - to find out the North-West passage or the source of the Nile, or to hunt tigers in the East. We must stay where we grow, or where the gardeners like to transplant us. We are brought up like flowers, to look as pretty as we can, and be dull without complaining. That is my notion about the plants: they are often bored, and that is the reason why some of them have got poisonous.""You are not a woman. You can 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."On the goodness that exists potentially in all of us:"...if only these two beautiful young creatures could have pledged themselves to each other then and there, and never through life have swerved from that pledge! For some of the goodness which Rex believed in was there. Goodness is a large, often prospective word; like harvest, which at one stage when we talk of it lies all underground, with an indeterminate future: is the germ prospering in the darkness? at anot
keristars on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is one of those works of classic British literature that is apparently absolutely fantastic and a must read for everyone (especially English majors), but which is extremely difficult and at times mind-numbingly boring.I like George Eliot, I really do. I think she was a great writer, and the themes and techniques she uses in her novels are pretty cool and make for some fun discussions (that is, if you're the kind of person who gets into conversations about, as one example, the rise of the middle class/democracy in the nineteenth century as shown in really long novels). But I don't like reading her books. Daniel Deronda didn't keep my attention, and I felt like I had to force myself through the middle section, and I never did read the entire thing, though I skipped to the end and I have a good idea of how the story goes. Maybe one day, I'll go back to the novel and try it again, but that probably won't be until I've read absolutely everything else on my shelves, I'm sure.Daniel Deronda is marginally more entertaining than Mill on the Floss, and definitely more enjoyable than David Copperfield, but it's really really long and Victorian, and, well, I'd rather see a film version than read it.
wordebeast on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Still, IMHO, the best Eliot. Bigger issues, and you always know Eliot's way smarter than you and point/counter-pointed it already.
awilliamson on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is my all time favorite novel. Eliot managed to combine the social issues of prejudice, upbringing, and class creating a wonderful tale of love and finding one's own self.
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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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