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Daniel Deronda > Daniel Deronda - Book 6 - Revelations

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Some revelations, true, but the big one yet to come only tossed out as a massive teaser at the end of Book 6 (fortunately for us, we do not have to wait a month, as the original readers did, to find out who his mother is and what his history was).

But my primary thought reading Book 6 was of an old fashioned watch. All those gears moving in their own ways but also interacting, affecting each other, moving inexorably on their own paths but with each point on each gear moving into and out of the lives of the other gears. That's how I saw this book, with Deronda as the central gear which all the others mesh with and through.

The two major lines -- Gwendolen and Grandcourt, and Mirah and Mordecai, alternate back and forth with Deronda the common point, but the two lines also meeting at the Mallinger's musical evening and later as Gwendolen goes to meet Mirah.

But first we have the chapters at the Philosopher's Club. Aren't Buchan's questions as relevant today as it was when Eliot penned them?

"And the questions I would put are three: Is all change in the direction of progress? if not, how shall we discern which change is progress and which not? and thirdly, how far and in what way can we act upon the course of change so as to promote it where it is beneficial, and divert it where it is injurious?"

What do you feel about the direction of the discussion as Eliot presents it? If you had been there would you have taken it another direction?


message 2: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments There were so many moments in this section that drew me in. One was the almost mystical moment as Deronda landed from the wherry at the bridge. "I expected you to come down the river. I have been waiting for you these five years."

For some reason this reminded me powerfully of Keat's sonnet:

On first looking into Chapman's Homer

MUCH have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told 5
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne:
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken; 10
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.


There are Deronda and Mordecai, staring at each other with a wild surmise, silent upon a bridge in London.


message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments I was almost disgusted by Hans's reaction to Mirah's brother having been found. No happiness for her at all. No touch of humanity. If he winds up with Mirah, I may have to consider burning the book!


message 4: by Sue (last edited Feb 14, 2014 09:48AM) (new)

Sue Pit (cybee) | 329 comments Ah, much occurred in this book 6! As its title states, "Revelations" are made! Interesting to read of the general perceptions as to and by those of the Jewish faith (as discussed by the "Philosophers). Some seeking integration (in part to diffuse the "inherited hatred" against them), while Mordecai has an ardent desire to embrace the heritage and carry it onwards and he expresses the hope to regain an "organic center" (e.g. Isreal) (even a surprising reference to Cabbala by Mordecai).
It is made clear that that Grandcourt's reason in marrying Gw was not of love of her but love of control. Akin to one collecting fine spirited stallions for others to admire and for one to control. Of course, Gw hopes in entering the marriage were likewise founded upon her ability to control GC ("any romantic illusion she had in marrying this man had turned on her power of using him as she liked. He was using her as he liked. Chapter 48).
GE perceives human nature well and how the environment and past past experiences can affect the same and how one processes one's options.
Interesting to see how Gw is full of thoughts of Deronda whilst Deronda is largely preoccupied with other matters (something that Gw does not anticipate).
I was amused about some of GE's writings, such as Hans comeback to his mother regarding the 12 (or so) years absence of a loved one (as compared to say 20 years) (Ch. 47) (but agree with EM, Han's reaction to D's finding of Myrah's brother is not good evidence re Han's character).
I also liked how GE described GW's walking away from Grandcourt after GC makes a nefarious allusion to Deronda as to Myrah…wherein Gw is struggling so hard to contain herself (and her emotion) as she exits, that she "walked out of the room with something like the care of a man who is afraid of showing that he has taken more wine than usual". ha! (Ch. 48)
And yes, GE knows how to do cliff hangers!


message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Sue wrote: "It is made clear that that Grandcourt's reason in marrying Gw was not of love of her but love of control. Akin to one collecting fine spirited stallions for others to admire and for one to control. Of course, Gw hopes in entering the marriage were likewise founded upon her ability to control GC "

I've been thinking about this, and wondering how Eliot's original readers would have viewed Grandcourt. Today, of course, at least in the enlightened West, Grandcourt's attitude is at best deplorable and at worse, well, words fail.

But I wonder whether Eliot's original readers would have had the same reaction. Or would they have viewed him as maybe a bit harsh, but in general right about the need for the husband to control the wife? Would they have seen Gwendolen as too unladylike and needing the sure hand of an older man to correct her? I really don't know.

I was also thinking that there are countries in the world today -- I think of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan for examples -- where many people, especially older people, might view Grandcourt as a perfectly normal male acting entirely appropriately. Or do I misunderstand those cultures?

And is it even possible that there are people in Western countries who, perhaps secretly, admire Grandcourt and wish they could get away with acting as he does?

After all, his form of villainy is a form that has a long history of societal acceptance and even approval, doesn't it?


message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Sue wrote: "Interesting to see how Gw is full of thoughts of Deronda whilst Deronda is largely preoccupied with other matters (something that Gw does not anticipate)."

That's a nice point. Which I think reflects the gender difference as well as Gwendolen's position as a controlled wife. She really doesn't have much opportunity for other interests, does she? Her life is so restricted that she has very little to preoccupy herself.

Deronda, on the other hand, is active in society, is free to go where he wants as and when he wants and do what he wants, with the financial resources to support him and an active and actively trained mind, which Gwendolen doesn't have.

But if you suggest that there is more behind your comment that that, I would agree with you.


message 7: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1729 comments Everyman wrote: "Sue wrote: "It is made clear that that Grandcourt's reason in marrying Gw was not of love of her but love of control. Akin to one collecting fine spirited stallions for others to admire and for one..."

I think Eliot's original readers would have read Austen, and so would have known the advantages of a loving marriage.


message 8: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Roger wrote: "I think Eliot's original readers would have read Austen, and so would have known the advantages of a loving marriage. "

Well, yes, but would they have thought that was a normal type of relationship, or would they have seen it as romantic fiction, much like the Harlequin romances today which I don't think many of their readers think are realistic depictions of life.


message 9: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1729 comments Why would Austen seem less real than Eliot?


message 10: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (ElizabethHammond) | 233 comments Roger wrote: "Why would Austen seem less real than Eliot?"

I don't think I've read anything of Austen since I was a teenager, but from what I remember, her novels are about British aristocracy, falling in love, and mothers getting their daughters suitably matched up as quickly as possible after reaching marriageable age. I would think that the average person (or possibly the majority) reading Eliot's novel in serial form in a newspaper comes from a completely different class -- lower and middle class. They would (I assume) be folks who came out of poverty and folks who were second sons and daughters of aristocracy who had to make their own way in the world. Possibly these people would be more aware of social issues: women who have not yet gained the right to vote; women who must choose to accept arranged marriages if they are to even hope of maintaining the lifestyle.

In short, Austen is a romantic; Eliot is a realist. Wouldn't that difference make her seem more real?


message 11: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (ElizabethHammond) | 233 comments Sue wrote: "Ah, much occurred in this book 6! As its title states, "Revelations" are made! Interesting to read of the general perceptions as to and by those of the Jewish faith (as discussed by the "Philosophers. Some seeking integration (in part to diffuse the "inherited hatred" against them), while Mordecai has an ardent desire to embrace the heritage and carry it onwards and he expresses the hope to regain an "organic center" (e.g. Isreal) (even a surprising reference to Cabbala by Mordecai)..."

This book has so many interesting people/relationship story lines that would make it an enjoyable read all by themselves, but when GE adds the social issues of the time such as education being accessible only to the elite, the plight of many women in that they are uneducated and cannot be the holders of wealth in England, and then the Jewish issue.

I had originally thought that the Jewish issue was about prejudice, particularly as it relates to religious beliefs, but after finishing this Book 6, I think the issue of whether or not Deronda is Jewish by heritage and if he is, how he will react to that; or if he is not, will Mordecai die before being disappointed.

I now see the Jewish issue, as Sue wrote, as the desire of many Jews to have their own national identity and land. I thought GE was prophetic in her thoughts on this issue. Maybe the Cabbala discusses it?


message 12: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1729 comments Elizabeth wrote: "Roger wrote: "Why would Austen seem less real than Eliot?"

I don't think I've read anything of Austen since I was a teenager, but from what I remember, her novels are about British aristocracy, fa..."


Do read some Austen! Her works give endless delight. But isn't DD also mostly about aristocrats pairing off? Deronda, Grandcourt, the Harleths, the Gascoignes, all belong to the aristocracy. Mrs. Harleth and Mrs. Arrowpoint seem as concerned with getting their daughters suitably married as any mother from Austen.

We do see a little more of the working class than Austen ever shows. There's Klesmer, and also the Cohens. Such folk get only bit parts in Austen. Maybe that suited the tastes of a reading public that had more working class people in it. I wouldn't say that was more real. Why is a novel less real because it is about aristocrats? Austen's aristocrats are very humanly and realistically portrayed.


message 13: by Linda (new)

Linda | 322 comments Yes, I also was quite surprised by Hans' reaction to finding Mirah's brother. I had to reread that part thinking I had misunderstood at first. I had taken him for a more compassionate person. And if he truly has feelings for Mirah it seems natural he would want her to be happy and her main cause of despair when she comes into the Meyrick's lives is the fact that she has not been able to find her long lost mother and brother.

Frankly, the discussions in the Philosopher's Club were a bit glossy for me. I ended up skimming some of those parts, deciding to just focus on the the fact that Mordecai needs/wants someone to pass on his knowledge and faith to.

Sue wrote: I also liked how GE described GW's walking away from Grandcourt after GC makes a nefarious allusion to Deronda as to Myrah…wherein Gw is struggling so hard to contain herself (and her emotion) as she exits, that she "walked out of the room with something like the care of a man who is afraid of showing that he has taken more wine than usual". ha! (Ch. 48)

I loved this part!! I could plainly visualize Gwendolen walking across the room with as much focus as possible.


message 14: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Linda wrote: "Yes, I also was quite surprised by Hans' reaction to finding Mirah's brother. I had to reread that part thinking I had misunderstood at first. I had taken him for a more compassionate person. And if he truly has feelings for Mirah it seems natural he would want her to be happy"

But it seems that he fears that she will have somebody else in her life he will have to compete with. Which is so self-centered. It makes a crystal clear distinction between Hans and Deronda.


message 15: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1729 comments Mordecai seems to personify the Jewish race as a whole--I mean the Jews as Eliot's Gentile contemporaries might see them. He is on the margins of society, poor, decrepit, but full of wisdom, with a deeply-felt calling to preserve his message intact and pass it on to the next generation.


message 16: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Chumley (kathleenchumley) | 8 comments Everyman wrote: "Linda wrote: "Yes, I also was quite surprised by Hans' reaction to finding Mirah's brother. I had to reread that part thinking I had misunderstood at first. I had taken him for a more compassionate..."

He also was hoping she would eventually convert to Christianity, which would make a union with her possible, at least in his mind. The marriage between Klesmer and Miss Arrowpoint would have been unusual I think. Once Mirah found her brother, he assumed she would become more Jewish, effectively ending any opportunity he thought he had.

Still, I didn't expect his reaction to be so selfish.


message 17: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (ElizabethHammond) | 233 comments Roger wrote: "Mordecai seems to personify the Jewish race as a whole--I mean the Jews as Eliot's Gentile contemporaries might see them. He is on the margins of society, poor, decrepit, but full of wisdom, with ..."

Ooooh Roger! I hate disagreeing with you, but I'd like to point out that Benjamin Disraeli became the first Jewish prime minister of England about the time GE was writing Daniel Deronda. And, he served a second term. Surely both Jews and Gentiles respected him and that doesn't count the women who didn't have a vote!

I know that "one swallow does not a summer make", but I really haven't studied the role of Jews very much and Disraeli immediately came to mind.

To make a supporting point, I think the members of the Philosopher's group that Mordecai met with were a mixture of Jews and Gentiles, and Mordecai was the poorest.





http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin...


message 18: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1729 comments Indeed, the prominence of Disraeli surely raised interest in Judaism when Eliot was writing. But Disraeli abandoned Judaism as a child and became an Anglican. This is just the sort of desertion of one's heritage that Mordecai would want him to avoid.


message 19: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (ElizabethHammond) | 233 comments Roger wrote: "Indeed, the prominence of Disraeli surely raised interest in Judaism when Eliot was writing. But Disraeli abandoned Judaism as a child and became an Anglican. This is just the sort of desertion o..."

Well, I stand corrected. I didn't know about Disraeli abandonment of Judaism as a child. I'll have to read up to see if I can find out why he did that, or rather maybe his parents did that?!

With regard to Mordecai. From the discussion within the Philosopher's group, and from searching for other clues as to why Mordecai was so interested in Deronda, I had concluded that what Mordecai wants is someone to take up the banner of establishing an Israeli nation more than specifically trying to get Deronda to practice the Jewish faith.

Why do you think Mordecai is so specifically interested in Deronda?


message 20: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1729 comments I have no idea why Mordecai is interested in Deronda. Desperation? Perceptivity? Inspiration?


message 21: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Roger wrote: "Mordecai seems to personify the Jewish race as a whole--I mean the Jews as Eliot's Gentile contemporaries might see them. He is on the margins of society, poor, decrepit, but full of wisdom, with ..."

Interesting. But weren't Jews more often seen not as poor but as money-making machines, making and hoarding society's wealth? Certainly in Germany by the 1930s that was one of the primary bases for resentment of them.


message 22: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Kathy wrote: "He also was hoping she would eventually convert to Christianity, which would make a union with her possible, at least in his mind. "

Good point. Finding her Jewish brother might well solidify her commitment to her Judaism.


message 23: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Don wrote: " I think maybe at one level, just making Deronda's acquaintance and sensing Deronda's curiosity, makes Deronda interesting to him. At another level I got something of a feeling there is something mystical to Mordecai, maybe something to balance Eliot's use of science so far in the book? "

I had also picked up the mystical aspect. But I'm fascinated by the idea of it being a counterpoint to the scientific aspects of the book.


message 24: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1729 comments Everyman wrote: "Roger wrote: "Mordecai seems to personify the Jewish race as a whole--I mean the Jews as Eliot's Gentile contemporaries might see them. He is on the margins of society, poor, decrepit, but full of..."

I wonder about that too. Some of the comments on the Cohens seem to reveal an antisemitic prejudice as money-grubbing. But wasn't it exactly the rich and successful Jews who were the most assimilated, the most separated from their religious and spiritual heritage?


message 25: by Sue (last edited Feb 17, 2014 12:40PM) (new)

Sue Pit (cybee) | 329 comments Yes, this persecution has long mystified me as well. At one point/place, those of the Jewish faith were banned from holding land (Why? Their "separateness?" Blame re Jesus?) thus they learned how to survive (some well) in towns and were reviled as a result (those living well/perceived as taking an "advantage" over others). Yet on the other hand the poor and distinctly different were also reviled. There were divisions within the Jewish faith as well, between the established well to do (and more seemingly assimilated) and the immigrating poor who appeared "undesirable" (and giving the established Jewish upper class a bad name, or so they feared). Perhaps there is no easy answer. We see some of this in the "Philospophers" club discussion..the dichotomy of views.

As said by Lloyd George in 1923:“Of all the extreme fanaticism which plays havoc in man’s nature, there is not one as irrational as anti-Semitism. … If the Jews are rich [these fanatics] are victims of theft. If they are poor, they are victims of ridicule. If they take sides in a war, it is because they wish to take advantage from the spilling of non-Jewish blood. If they espouse peace, it is because they are scared by their natures or traitors. If the Jew dwells in a foreign land he is persecuted and expelled. If he wishes to return to his own land, he is prevented from doing so.”


message 26: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1729 comments Could DD be the first sympathetic portrayal of contemporaneous Judaism in post-classical literature?


message 27: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Roger wrote: "Could DD be the first sympathetic portrayal of contemporaneous Judaism in post-classical literature?"

There is "Ivanhoe," but that is set in the Middle Ages.


message 28: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Sue wrote: "Yes, this persecution has long mystified me as well. At one point/place, those of the Jewish faith were banned from holding land (Why? Their "separateness?" Blame re Jesus?) thus they learned how..."

My very limited understanding is that it arose from several ideas. First, of course, is that during the Middle Ages the notion was that the Jews had killed Christ and so were enemies of the Church and of all believers. But there was a second strand, that since the Catholic Church forbade moneylending for profit, the Jews took over this aspect of commerce and became wealthy, dominating much of the economy to the point that European kings often had to go to the Jews for money to wage their wars, leading to enormous resentment of Jews generally which, of course, was a smouldering ember fanned back into flame by the Nazis, who blamed the Jews for most of what was wrong with Germany.

And, of course, the Jews were an "other tribe" which was very inbred and didn't seem to want to interact with the Christian tribe any more than the Christians wanted to interact with them. What I find interesting is that we see this same suspicion of the "other" in the contemporary European treatment of the Roma, traditionally referred to as Gypsies or, in England (and maybe elsewhere) as Travelers. Sadly, the fervor of prejudice has not been stilled, it has just moved to a new set of victims.


message 29: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Everyman wrote: "Sue wrote: "Yes, this persecution has long mystified me as well. At one point/place, those of the Jewish faith were banned from holding land (Why? Their "separateness?" Blame re Jesus?) thus they..."

Right. As Anne says, they turned to jewelry and money-lending because, not able to own land, they needed easily portable assets. (The Bible forbad them to charge interest to fellow Jews, but not to other peoples.) There was a lot of superstition in the medieval church and very little knowledge of the Bible. The people evidently did not know that the Bible says that lands who persecute Israel will be severely punished. It was simple-minded of them to blame the Jews for crucifying Jesus: Jesus and his disciples were all Jews, after all, and Roman leaders as well as the Jewish religious leaders participated in the Crucifixion. We all did, since he voluntarily died for our sins.

Then there was that Otherness. The Jews dressed differently, ate differently, talked differently, worshiped differently. (As for Hitler, I firmly believe that he wanted to eliminate the Jews because they reminded him of God. That and their loot.) Discrimination against the Jews is not over in our "enlightened" times: just look to Europe and the Middle East and some American cities. I'm glad that Scott and Eliot spoke up in the most effective way--through story.


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