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George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, & Zionism: Some Observations

by Ibn Warraq (December 2009)


Part One: A.

G
eorge Eliot’s Daniel Deronda was first published in 1876, and proved to be her last novel. The novel begins in August 1865, and is thus set in, and a searching analysis of, the Victorian society of her day. Daniel Deronda is at once a love story, and a novel of ideas - two interwoven strands running through it. One strand concerns the life and moral development of the heroine, Gwendolen Harleth, a selfish but sparkling woman of great charm at home in the fashionable, upper-class world of Victorian England, and the other looks with empathy at the world of Jews and their aspirations, mainly in England but also in the wider European context. Bridging the two worlds is the good, wise, compassionate Daniel Deronda, brought up as an English gentleman, who discovers that his mother was Jewish, and by the end of the novel takes up the cause of restoring the Jewish nation in Palestine. more>>>