Daniel Deronda

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A novel by G. Eliot, published 1876, the last of her novels.

Gwendolen Harleth, high‐spirited, self‐confident, and self‐centred, marries the arrogant, cold‐hearted Henleigh Grandcourt for his money and his position, to save her mother, sisters, and herself from destitution and in spite of the fact that she knows of the existence of Lydia Glasher, who has had a long‐standing affair with Grandcourt, and children by him. She suffers in consequence from guilt and a sense of her husband's increasing power over her. In her misery she comes increasingly under the influence of the idealistic young Daniel Deronda, who becomes her spiritual adviser. It is gradually revealed that he is not, as he had assumed, an illegitimate cousin of Grandcourt's but the son of a Jewish singer of international renown. This discovery strengthens his bonds with Mirah, a young Jewish singer whom he has saved from drowning, and her brother Mordecai, an intellectual Jewish nationalist. Gwendolen's husband is drowned at Genoa, in a manner that leaves her feeling partly guilty for his death; she confesses to Deronda, but shortly discovers to her initial despair that he is to marry Mirah and devote himself to the Jewish cause. Notable among the minor characters is Klesmer, the musician, who persuades Gwendolen that her talent as a singer, though acceptable in an amateur, would not repay training, thus unwittingly pushing her towards her disastrous marriage.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

George Eliot (1819—1880) novelist

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