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Daniel Deronda (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Nadia May meets the strenuous demands of Eliot's narration with easy assurance. In this enduring Victorian classic written in 1876, two stories weave in and out of each other: The first is about Gwendolen, one of Eliot's finest creations, who grows from a self-centered young beauty to a thoughtful adult with an expanded vision of the world around her. The second is about Daniel Deronda, adopted son of an aristocratic Englishman who becomes fascinated with Jewish traditions when he meets an ailing Jewish philosopher named Mordecai and his sensitive sister, Mirah. Providentially, Daniel then discovers that he himself is Jewish. Eliot's (Middlemarch, Audio Reviews, LJ 3/15/95) tender portrait of Mordecai is considered by some critics to be one of the most sympathetic treatments of a Jewish character in Victorian literature. Characterizations are strong throughout, except when the author takes center stage and delivers one of her lengthy monologs. Once the compelling drama resumes, it makes incredible demands on the narrator. However, whether May is reading French or German or Italian quotations, or interpreting Mordecai's Zionist speeches, she deserves to share the final applause with George Eliot herself.?Jo Carr, Sarasota, FL
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Daniel Deronda is a startling and unexpected novel . . . it is a cosmic myth, a world history, and a morality play. --A.S. Byatt --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reissue edition (1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192834819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192834812
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.4 x 4.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,014,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Daniel Deronda," the culmination of George Eliot's distinguished career, is a tale of two cultures which explores the themes of concealed heritage, bigotry, and marriages of convenience in a manner never done before or since. Like its predecessor "Middlemarch," it is a long novel of perfectly structured complexity and impressive intellectual exposition, built upon a cast of characters so sharply and meticulously defined that the plot is propelled solely by the power of their presence. This is the novel that Henry James wanted to write, and even he could never match Eliot's passion and linguistic effortlessness.
The forward story in "Daniel Deronda" is that of Gwendolen Harleth, a coquettish, conceited, superficial girl -- in company she often affects a sophistication that is never quite convincing -- who could be called the heroine even though she lacks most heroic attributes. She is from an upper class family, but when misfortune strikes and she is faced with poverty, she consents to marry a man named Mallinger Grandcourt, heir to a large estate, rather than reduce herself to taking a job as a governess, and despite having received a warning from a mysterious lady about Grandcourt's having fathered illegitimate children.
The secondary story is that of Daniel Deronda, the title character, a young man who first sees Gwendolen in a casino in Leubronn at the beginning of the novel. Daniel, who happens to be the ward of Mallinger Grandcourt's uncle, Sir Hugo Mallinger, is inquisitive about his obscure parentage and unsure of his place in the world. One portentous day, he rescues a girl from drowning herself -- this is Mirah Lapidoth, a Jewish girl who has run away from her father in Prague and come to London to look for her long-lost mother and brother.
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Format: Paperback
Daniel Deronda is a brave piece of literature. It attempts to chronicle the budding Zionist movement and anti-semitic attitudes of Victorian society, and combine it with a more traditional George Eliot soul-searching story of a young woman (a gentile who has a complex relationship with Daniel Deronda, the young Englishman who discovers he is a Jew). While many people have quibbled about various details of the story, with some justification, the overall impact is one of awe. It's amazing how an accomplished writer defies popular criticism and explores a subject matter which was, at the time, politically incorrect.
Strictly speaking, Daniel Deronda isn't quite the same level of immaculate fiction as Middlemarch. So I think George Eliot fans will be somewhat disappointed. But on the positive side, the book is much more accessible (ie, easier to read). And the subject matter makes it required reading for everyone interested in modern Judaism/Zionism. It's fascinating to compare how Jews were perceived during the mid-1800s relative to today (..in western Europe).
Finally, the Penguin Classic edition of Daniel Deronda has both great Notes and Introductory sections (which, oddly, is supposed to be read AFTER reading the book).
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Format: Paperback
"Daniel Deronda" was the last novel George Eliot wrote, and it's an appropriate finale to her career -- a lushly-written, heartfelt story about a young man searching for his past (and clues to his future), as well as a vibrant strong-willed young lady who discovers that life doesn't always go your way. Even better, Eliot deftly avoided the cliches and caricatures of the Jewish people, portraying them with love and respect.

Daniel Deronda is the ward (and rumored illegitimate son) of a nobleman, who is unsure of his past (particularly of his mother) catching a glimpse of pretty, reckless, arrogant Gwendolyn Harleth at a casino. Gwendolyn (who boasts that she gets everything she wants) is interested in Daniel, but when her family loses all their money, she marries a rich suitor, a relative of Daniel's -- knowing that his mistress and illegitimate children will be disinherited. But she soon finds that her new husband is a sadistic brute, and sees Daniel as her only help.

Meanwhile, Daniel rescues the despairing Mirah Lapidoth from a suicide attempt in the river, and he helps the young Jewish singer find a home and friends to care for her. As he helps her find her family, he becomes passionately attached to the Jewish population and their plight, embodied by a dying young visionary and a kindly shopkeeping family. Then he receives an important message -- one that will illuminate his roots, and give him a course for the future.

When Eliot published her final novel, it caused a massive stir -- not many novelists tackled the plight of the Jewish population, or how it compared to the gilded upper classes.
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Format: Paperback
This novel, originally published in 1876, was Eliot's last. It has remained controversial ever since, and some critics delete it from her first-rank work. It is an ideological novel, and its plot is forced at times (too many coincidences, for one thing). The central character appears to be Gwendolen Harleth at the start (note the echo of her last name with "harlot"), who pawns a necklace at a gaming table only to have it returned by a disapproving observer--the eponymous Deronda. While offended, Gwendolen is also fascinated by Daniel and finally takes him on as her conscience as the novel continues, at great length, weaving a multitude of characters and issues into a fabric with an echo-chamber effect (in the sense that various elements of the book echo each other in odd and unpredictable ways throughout the novel, such as the continuing ways that people gamble with their own fates and the lives of others). This is a novel of sensibility, a link between Austen's method and Woolf's. But it is also a romantic treatment of Zionism (well before it was a popular issue, especially in Victorian England), with all the Jewish leads ennobled and idealized. In this sense it reads differently than MIDDLEMARCH, which was strictly realistic except at the very end. It's closer to SILAS MARNER, a morality tale with symbolic characters. Gwendolen is one of the saddest and most beautiful figures in any novel. She wants so deeply to be the center of attention, and finally can't even be the title character of the novel she's in. There are so many marvellous moments in this book, it repays the time it takes to read it many times over. I do not think Eliot arrived at a satisfying structure for the book, though; her need to promote Zionism prevented it. The Oxford paperback edition is the one I read, and I can recommend it highly -- its notes are superb. But the print is very small, so if that bothers you use another edition.
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