"You speak as men do-as if you felt yourself wise. What does it all mean?"
I don't think it's an overstatement to call George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) one of the 2 or 3 greatest novelists of the 19th century (I'd say her competition is Austen and Dickens. Not that it's a competition.), and, by extension, one of the greatest ever. "Middlemarch" is her agreed upon masterpiece, but everything she wrote is superb. "Daniel Deronda," published in 1876, is her final novel and nearly the equal of "Middlemarch." While its style (and length) can make it feel a bit old fashioned, her psychological insights and nuanced depictions of male/female relationships and how the individual navigates society are unparalleled and strikingly contemporary. With its her, Daniel Deronda, Eliot also delves deep into Jews and Judaism and she must be one of the first non-Jewish writers to treat the subject and characters with such respect and sympathy. But the novel has not just one, but two protagonists and Gwendolen Harleth, though presented as impetuous, spoiled, and arrogant, is one of her greatest creations. Eliot died in 1880.
Ground-breaking classic that tackles anti-Semitism in 19th-century Britain. It's certainly dense reading, but the payoff is huge--fully fleshed out characters that provide great insights into issues of wealth, vanity, pride and power.
A critique on the acceptability of people in Victorian society at a time when certain factions were considered outside society. Daniel Daronda is a lost man - he has no real identity except as a love child of a noble man. However he must find his own way in such a time and place. How he discoveres his own identity and accepts it makes for a wonderful story that is ahead of its time.
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