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Daniel Deronda
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Group Reads > Daniel Deronda Discussion! (Classics Series #3 May '14)

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message 1: by Taylor (last edited Jun 01, 2014 08:34AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Taylor (seffietay) Number 3 in our Classics Series is Daniel Deronda! Remember that at the end of the year we will discuss this along with the other 5 classics featured in Imagining Characters: Six Conversations About Women Writers: Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Willa Cather, Iris Murdoch, and Toni Morrison.


message 2: by Kat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat | 145 comments I'm reading this now and am about 2/3 through, but since that means I still have 300 pages to go and George Eliot, say what you will, is on the trudgy side, I may not have finished by the end of May. But I'll definitely be done by the end of the year!


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
Ha! Sorry to say I'm way behind you, my library copy of Villette just got delivered to my local library today.


message 4: by Kat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat | 145 comments Well, I skipped over Villette! I read it some years back but don't remember it well enough to discuss it. However, I was eager to read something I hadn't read before, so I went for DD.


Taylor (seffietay) I'm sooooo behind but I will get them all read by the end of the year. Pinkie promise!


Taylor (seffietay) Here I am, reading Daniel Deronda! I'm only about 10% in but so far it's pretty entertaining. It definitely looks long...


message 7: by Kat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat | 145 comments I really enjoyed DD. Apparently some critics have felt it ought to have been two novels--one about DD himself and English Judaism and one about Gwendolyn Harleth (who I found a fascinating creation). I must admit that the two threads aren't tightly yoked (can threads be yoked?!), but I still think they belong in the same book.


message 8: by Taylor (last edited Aug 07, 2014 12:15PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Taylor (seffietay) I'm just half way through but I am liking how Daniel and Gwendolyn's stories intersect, seeing them as separate stories would be weird... it's nice to bounce from one story to the other.


Taylor (seffietay) I'm on book 6 now, chapter 40-something, and Deronda and Mordecai are discussing Judaism. It's really interesting to see this type of discussion in a book from 1876, especially because they discuss Israel and Palestine and the conflict there is still very much an issue of late... I wonder if Mary Ann Evans considered that this topic would still be highly relevant 138 years in the future?


message 10: by Kat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat | 145 comments Yes, that fascinates me, too. I wonder if Mordecai's reasons were the same as the ones that motivated early Zionists? Not something I know much about.

By the way, leaving Sat. for three wks in England, so I may not be active for a bit. I'll think of DD in London!


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
Hope you have a wonderful time! I'm jealous!


Taylor (seffietay) Oooh have fun in England! Where abouts will you be?


message 13: by Kat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat | 145 comments Ten days in London and ten days in Woodstock, near Oxford. (We'll be walking distance from Blenheim Palace.) We have friends in Woodstock. I hope we'll be doing some day trips, but it will depend on my health while I'm there.


Taylor (seffietay) London is so fun, there are so many things to see! If you're looking for a fun day/overnight trip you can take the train to Edinburgh (via Glasgow). It's not very expensive and Edinburgh is unbelievably beautiful!


message 15: by Kat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat | 145 comments Would love to go to Edinburgh someday, though probably won't make it on this trip. However, you never know.


Taylor (seffietay) Ok it took me an outrageous length of time to finish this, and I have to admit I skimmed through the last 20%. There were moments that I felt drawn into the story, but then would find myself wading through a long sequence of fairly boring dialogue driven scenes that I wasn't interested in.

One thing that stood out to me was the idea that (view spoiler)


message 17: by Kat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat | 145 comments I think the issue of mixed marriages (which was the term used originally for marriage between people of different faiths) is a complex one that deserves a less rigid characterization. Remember that in the 19th century (and for many, even today) issues of faith were not merely about which holidays were celebrated, but about eternal salvation. That this concern crossed Deronda's mind so little is actually the criticism I would make on this issue. Though it's now been some months since I read it, so perhaps I've forgotten musings of this sort.

Funny that the dialogue-driven scenes were the ones that didn't interest you--they're always my favorites.


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
Now that I've finally finished this I can actually allow myself to read these comments! I agree with Kat, the dialogue always grabbed me, it was the long preachy moralizing that slowed me down.

I think Daniel was perfectly willing to marry Mirah all along, he just knew that her deeply religious view of life wouldn't allow her to marry outside her religion (although really in this case it wasn't truly religion, it was ethnicity). What is possibly even odder, is that Daniel was driven to study with Mordecai, but felt that he couldn't if he wasn't Jewish. This was clearly about race, not religion. What I found most intriguing were all the subtle little bits of anti-Semitic beliefs that were dropped throughout Daniel's first explorations of the Jewish communities - were these Eliot's own beliefs? Or is she simply trying to show us the flavor of the time?


message 19: by Kat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kat | 145 comments Alexa wrote: "What I found most intriguing were all the subtle little bits of anti-Semitic beliefs that were dropped throughout Daniel's first explorations of the Jewish communities - were these Eliot's own beliefs? Or is she simply trying to show us the flavor of the time? "

Some of each, I think. Here's an article I read online about the Jewish content of this novel which I found very interesting, followed by a quote from it.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/book...

"But Eliot is not above prejudice towards a certain sort of Jew herself. She assumes the reader will not take to the Cohen family, headed by a shiny-faced pawnbroker, and even apologises in the last chapter for allowing them to attend a key wedding. Meanwhile, her portrayal of the innocent Mirah swings the other way, so saintly it has shades of the noble savage. She is so childlike that when she finally finds romance it feels almost unsavoury."


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
That was interesting, thank you! And yes, I think you pulled out one of the key contradictions I found in this.


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