Religious Studies and Theology, Vol 39, No 1 (2020)

The Minyan in Daniel Deronda

Michael Greenstein
Issued Date: 6 May 2020


George Eliot's final novel, Daniel Deronda (1876), is arguably her finest achievement. Deftly combining the plot of Gwendolen Harleth's provinicial English life with the Jewish plot involving Deronda' hidden identity, Eliot's fiction advances in new directions. After studying Jewish history and philosophy for a number of years, Eliot turned to "the other" in her writing, reaching out to a Jewish minority in the Diaspora, which was trying to finds its place in modern European society. Her multiple portraits of Jews across Europe are realistic and idealistic, extending back to the past and projecting to the future. Challenging Victorian taboos, Eliot's novel is both proto-Zionist and proto-Freudian. Exposing her nineteenth-century readers to a variety of Jewish characters, she paves the way for twentieth-century writers to explore further the nuances of Jews and Judaism. Her radical and experimental techniques, hidden within traditional prose, continue to resonate in the twenty-first century, with its greater understanding of double plots.

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DOI: 10.1558/rsth.40909


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