She who raised these questions in Daniel Deronda's mind was occupied in gambling: not in the open air under a southern sky, tossing coppers on a ruined wall. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot. Adobe PDF icon. Download this document as a .pdf: File size: MB What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read. Writing the Philosemitic Novel: Daniel Deronda Revisited Author(s): Alan T. Levenson Source: Prooftexts, Vol. 28, No. 2 (Spring ), pp. Published.
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Feb 1, Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg. She who raised these questions in Daniel Deronda's mind was occupied in . The inward debate which she raised in Deronda gave to his eyes a growing. Free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook. Daniel Deronda contains two main strains of plot, united by the title character. The novel begins in late August with the.
Eliot places various actions in the novel in Frankfurt the most visibly Jewish site west of the Elbe River in the s and Mainz the site of medieval Crusader massacres. Eliot looks eastwards, both to the Continent and to the ancestral Jewish homeland, for a more intense and authentic Jewish presence. Cambridge University Press, George Stewart, , 79— The Free Press, Although no scholar has commented on the name- choice Mordechai, it strikes me as patent: She does not.
In others words, both antisemitic and philosemitic representations partake of the same original sin: Cheyette also acknowledges the advance of antisemitism in the s as significant: Arnold, Trollope, and Eliot all published works related to the Jewish Question in that decade.
Second, for both Cheyette and Baumann, the insight that Jewish identity is constructed slides too easily into a view that the construction is arbitd trary. For all their differences, realist novelists such as Eliot and Trollope portrayed Jewry within parameters firmly established by historical reality. Whether to present Jews as money grubbing or disciplined, xenophobic or steadfd fast, incurably foreign or admirably distinct, were topics presented by the times and which served as real constraints on literary creations.
These three interpreters have read Deronda intelligently and have found deep structures not at all evident on a first read. In my view, however, the exoteric text has been excessively eclipsed in a number of ways. In a century when advocacy on behalf of Jews was regarded as special pleading, it comes as no surprise that many reviewers charged Eliot with glorifying Jewish characteristics.
Baker argues that Daniel Deronda represents the culmination of several decades of interest in Jews and Judaism. Eliot had many Jewish correspondents and was a good enough Hebraist to give Hebrew lessons to Lewes. It reads, in part: As to the Jewish element in Deronda, I expected from first to last in writing it, that it would create much stronger resistance and even repulsion than it has actually met with.
But precisely because I felt that the usual attitude of Christians towards Jews is—I hardly know whether to say more impious or more stupid when viewed in light of their professed principles, I therefore felt urged to treat Jews with such sympathy and understanding as my nature and knowledge could attain to.
But towards the Hebrews we western people who have been reared in Christianity, have a peculiar debt and, whether we acknowled edge it or not, a peculiar thoroughness of fellowship in religious and moral sentiment. Levenson often analyzed advocacy of Zionism suffice to explain this impression. Thus, the remainder of this essay is decidedly nonrevisionist: I accept the contemporary judgment of Daniel Deronda as philosemitic, and wish to highlight some neglected facets.
Daniel Deronda set a new benchmark for philosemitic discourse—this explains the gushing enthusd siasm of its Jewish readership. Re h a b ilitatin g t h e A s h k ena z i c J ew The temptation for well-meaning Christians to choose sides when delving into Jewish matters is a great one. Many Christian defenders of Jews or Judaism have succumbed to dividing Jews into types, to pronouncing some good and others bad. One of the most frequent dichotomies in the last century, in which many Jews participated, was the tendency to champion Sephardim over Ashkenazim as the preferred model for modern Jewry.
In other words, Sephardim were classy Jews who could be easily acculturated, unlike their Ashkenazic counterparts.
For European Jews, as Ismar Schorsch has persuasively argued, Sephardim provided an alternative form of Judaism in liturgy, synagogue architecture, literature, and scholarship that would offer a viable model for contemporary Jews.
The Arabic and classical Greek patrimony made for an ultimd mate equation of Hellenic and Hebraic. For European Christians, this preference for the Sephardic was a blatant vote for Jews who were as little like actual Jews as possible. For this very reason, Disraeli fabricated a Sephardic identity for himself and his fictional heroes.
Given these facts, it is remarkable to see Eliot finding something laudable in both Jewish types, and ultimately uniting them in marriage and in the task of national revival. As Michael Ragussis brilliantly demonsd strates, Disraeli, despite his baptism and despite his flaunting of his Jewish roots, was regarded as the crypto-Jew par excellence. Rather than being a witting Jew who seeks to conceal his or her identity a Marrano , Deronda is an unwitting Jew in search of a Jewish identity an anti-Marrano.
His three-syllable name, a probable nod to Disraeli, is decidedly not English, though not recognizably Jewish either.
He received a wholly English upbringing, but is in the dark about his own origins. Thus Deronda has no need to hide or submerge his Jewishness, since, to his knowledge, it does not exist. Interestingly, although some of the gentiles in the book remark on his Italian, foreign features, his Jewish visage is recognized by both Mordechai and Kalonymus.
Details like this made Freud marvel at the novel as one which speaks of things that Jews talk about only among themselves—in this case, the ability to recognize fellow Jews. In the pivotal period between Spring This content downloaded from Inevitably, dreamy constructions of possible ancestry for himself would weave themselves with historic memories.
After his epiphany, Deronda acknowledges that the acquisition of Jewish loyalties and learning, especially through the medium of text study, is a necessary part of turning the crypto-Jew into a practicing Jew, even one with a decidedly secular bent. She does not. The reader of Deronda cannot help but notice that characters periodically travel back to the site of European ur-Jewishness.
Eliot places various actions in the novel in Frankfurt the most visibly Jewish site west of the Elbe River in the s and Mainz the site of medieval Crusader massacres. Had Eliot limited her defense to Sephardic Jewry, she would have diminished the philosemitic thrust of the book. Ezra Cohen was not clad in the sublime pathos of the martyr. Once again, however, Eliot subverts this line of thought. In the same chapter, Deronda sympathetically regards Mordechai in the following terms: Martyrdom, in both cases, is equated with the ultimate in Jewish idealism.
In a chapter introducing the Cohens, she writes: If the scenery of St. Mary Axe and Whitechapel were imaginatively transported to the borders of the Rhine at the end of the eleventh century, when in the ears listening for the signals of the Messiah, the Hep! Here undoubtedly lies the chief poetic energy—in the force of imaginatd tion that pierces or exalts solid fact, instead of floating among cloud- pictures. To associate the fidelity of medieval Jews with actual, living Jews, however, was something unusual in non-Jewish writers.
Plenty of prosperous Jews remained in Babylon when Ezra marshaled his band of forty thousand and began a new glorious epoch in the history of the world which has been held glorious enough to be dated from for evermore. The hinge of possibility is simply the existence of an adequate community of feeling as well as widespread need in the Jewish race, and the hope that among its finer specimens there may arise some Spring This content downloaded from Levenson men of instruction and ardent public spirit, some new Ezra, some modern Maccabees, who will know how to use all favouring outward conditions, how to triumph by heroic example over the indifference of their fellows and the scorn of their foes, and will steadfastly set their faces towards making their people once more one among the nations.
Rather than highlighting the moral, spiritual, and eschatological developments of Second Temple Judaism as the platform on which Jesus stood, she praises the Jewish racial and cultural exclusivity initiated by Ezra as precisely those factors enabling a universal legacy: The Church presented Jewish life after the advent of Jesus as anachronistic and meaningless save as a witness to the truths of Christianity.
Supersessionism proved a malleable form of anti-Judaism: George Eliot patently rejected this view. She has Deronda express his shock on several occasions that Jewish life was still an ongoing reality. Mordechai, of course, is dying, but, as Baker noted, he is being succeeded in a kabbalistic sense, reincarnated in the vibrant Deronda. Even those who hold that the Cohens are portrayed negatively consider their energetic behavior an important part of the portrait.
Kalonymus, the Wandering Jew, does not wander aimlessly or without purpose in this novel—even if he does so in Christian caricd cature. In the very next chapter, the reader encounters another young man, Hans Meyrick, dissipating his artistic talent and pining away over an improbable match with Mirah.
As to the Jewish future, little needs to be added to the observation that the early Zionists regarded Daniel Deronda as an authentic gentile prophecy of Jewish revival.
Whereas the first scene of Daniel Deronda begins with reckless, deracinated dissipation over the gambling table, the last scene presents a wholesome wedding, the channeling of sex for higher purposes, and the promise of Jewish offspring reclaiming their ancient heritage. Perhaps I am exaggd gerating the point, but the widowed Gwendolyn, the husbandless Meyrick girls, the devastated Hans, the dead Grandcourt, and the heirless Sir Hugo leave the reader with the impression, surely an unusual one, that the future belongs to the Jews.
A f f i r m ation o f J ewis h L o y alt y I have already noted that Deronda is an anti-Marrano, but the rejection of Marrand nism goes beyond the protagonist. Still, a recollectd tion of her crypto-Jewish past continues to haunt her. She tells Deronda that she is not a good Jewess.
A puzzled Deronda asks for explanation. Levenson never observed the laws, but lived among Christians just as they did. What Mirah rejects is her prior Marrano- like existence. The futility of escaping Jewish destiny offers a recurring theme.
Eliot finds this unobjectionable. Eliot does object to exactly what Jews find objectionable: When Christians accepted that Jews would remain Jews, it was a grudging acknowledgment that Jews still had not seen the light of day. Between the fault lines of martyrdom and Marranism lies the common enemy despised by both Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews: Eliot strongly endorses the value of Jewish loyalty per se, and represents the apostate much as the Jewish community would.
Lapidoth uses germanisms e. More complex than Lapidoth, Leonora Halm-Eberstein has some qualities that win begrudging admiration: Her most prominent characteristic, Jewish self-hatred, is the telltale mark of the renegade.
Leonora Halm-Eberstein attempts to be a crypto-Jew and winds up with a distinctly Germanic last name, setting her apart from the majority of the Genoese. She abandons her lineage: Yet she is haunted at the end of the novel literally by faces from her Jewish past, a nagging sense of fear, and most of all by the irony that Deronda has become the link in the generational chain that she sought to break.
Driven by Kalonymus, but also by the pressure of her impending death, she unmasks herself as a Jew to her own son—the father-confessor, the Jewish Inquisitor without a malevolent bone in his body. She represents the down side of Marranism. By contrast, Kalonymus explicitly rejects trading loyalty for success: Should we include Spinoza or Heine?
Spinoza had an admiration for martyrdom that resurfaces in several places in his Spring This content downloaded from Although no scholar has commented on the name- choice Mordechai, it strikes me as patent: Schaffer observes: George Eliot grounds her geographical and temporal witchery in the history of the Diaspora. I believe that this geography also serves a specifically Jewish purpose, expanding the terrain of the Jewishly authentic. But it may also suggest the Pale of Settlement, the area of approved Jewish settlement established by the Russian tsars.
Certainly many readers in the late s would associate Eastern Jews with those of Poland and Russia. Critics have noted the appropriateness of an ending in media res to correspond to the beginning of the novel, a flashback of Gwendolyn and Deronda at the gambling tables of Leubronn. But since Ezra—Mordechai has found a Joshua to carry out his mission, could the former not muster enough enthusiasm to call Palestine by its name? He never does.
All readers have presumed that the chest will contain keffiyahs, not shtreimels, but consciously or not, Eliot was pointing to an eastern Jewish heartland in the Pale as well as in Palestine. Kalonymus, the mysterious figure akin to the Wandering Jew with the magical name, plays a pivotal role. Eliot describes Kalonymus as a southerner from Italy who tutored the rough German Jews. In Spring This content downloaded from Levenson other words, she explicitly connects Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jewry Kalonymus was indeed the name of a prominent medieval Italian family that settled in the Rhineland.
Inscribed with Arabic lettering, it contains the very texts that Daniel will need to study in order to reacqd quire his Jewish identity.
The Cohens also contrast with ordinary Christians, represented by the Meyrick household in Chelsea. Eliot does not delve into their ancestry; the absence of genealogy allows us to infer that they are average Ashkenazim, one or two generations removed from the Pale. As noted above, Deronda glumly remarks on their quotidian nature: Why does Eliot catalogue the components of Sabbath worship, including special wear, challot, blessings before and after, hand-washing, the cessation of business, the donning of kippot?
Indeed, why does Eliot bother to color in the prayers and formalities that are without obvious analogue in Christian life? If Eliot wanted to offer a veiled critique of the English proletariat, surely she should have chosen Hanukah, not Shabbes.
She tried to convey that scene accurately—if it is too visual and externalized, as David claims, it was not because Newcastle coal-miners were obstructing her vision. Er ist geheissen Israel. The Mill on the Floss George Eliot. The Lifted Veil George Eliot.
Scenes of Clerical Life George Eliot. Middlemarch George Eliot. Men can do nothing without the make-believe of a beginning. Even science, the strict measurer, is obliged to start with a make-believe unit, and must fix on a point in the stars' unceasing journey when his sidereal clock shall pretend that time is at Nought. His less accurate grandmother Poetry has always been understood to start in the middle; but on reflection it appears that her proceeding is not very different from his; since Science, too, reckons backward as well as forward, divides his unit into billions, and with his clock-finger at Nought really sets off in medias res.
No retrospect will take us to the true beginning; and whether our prologue be in heaven or on earth, it is but a fraction of that all-presupposing fact with which our story sets out.
Was she beautiful or not beautiful? Was the good or the evil genius dominant in those beams? Probably the evil; else why was the effect that of unrest rather than of undisturbed charm? Why was the wish to look again felt as coercion and not as a longing in which the whole being consents?
She who raised these questions in Daniel Deronda's mind was occupied in gambling: It was near four o'clock on a September day, so that the atmosphere was well-brewed to a visible haze. There was deep stillness, broken only by a light rattle, a light chink, a small sweeping sound, and an occasional monotone in French, such as might be expected to issue from an ingeniously constructed automaton.
Round two long tables were gathered two serried crowds of human beings, all save one having their faces and attention bent on the tables.
The one exception was a melancholy little boy, with his knees and calves simply in their natural clothing of epidermis, but for the rest of his person in a fancy dress. He alone had his face turned toward the doorway, and fixing on it the blank gaze of a bedizened child stationed as a masquerading advertisement on the platform of an itinerant show, stood close behind a lady deeply engaged at the roulette-table.
About this table fifty or sixty persons were assembled, many in the outer rows, where there was occasionally a deposit of new-comers, being mere spectators, only that one of them, usually a woman, might now and then be observed putting down a five-franc with a simpering air, just to see what the passion of gambling really was.
Those who were taking their pleasure at a higher strength, and were absorbed in play, showed very distant varieties of European type: Here certainly was a striking admission of human equality. The white bejewelled fingers of an English countess were very near touching a bony, yellow, crab-like hand stretching a bared wrist to clutch a heap of coin—a hand easy to sort with the square, gaunt face, deep-set eyes, grizzled eyebrows, and ill-combed scanty hair which seemed a slight metamorphosis of the vulture.
And where else would her ladyship have graciously consented to sit by that dry-lipped feminine figure prematurely old, withered after short bloom like her artificial flowers, holding a shabby velvet reticule before her, and occasionally putting in her mouth the point with which she pricked her card?