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Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Daniel Deronda"

First of all, thanks again to Alex for organizing this challenge.

My first book is "Daniel Deronda" by George Eliot. Once I finish it, I will have read all of her full length novels other than "Romola." I believe that George Eliot is a great writer and the first 150 pages of this book have done nothing to change that belief.

I should qualify what I am about to say by noting that I don't bring any educational or other credentials to the following. The first section of the book called "The spoiled child" read like a parody of Jane Austen's novels with all of the rituals of courtship. I found this to be especially true when an extremely eligible bachelor arrives on the scene and Eliot writes "Some readers of this history will doubtless regard it as incredible that people should construct matrimonial prospects on the mere report that a bachelor of good fortune and possibilities was coming within reach." That sound eerily like a reference to the opening sentences of "Pride and Prejudice."

More to the point of Eliot's ability as a writer is her description of Deronda as a young adolescent. For me one of the acid tests of a writer of fiction is his or her ability to create realistic characters who are different from themselves - in this case a female writer describing the feelings of a 13 year old boy. While there is no similarity between my own experiences (some 40 years ago) and those of Deronda all of his doubts and uncertainties were ones that I could personally identify with. I have no idea where this story is going, but I am really looking forward to the rest of it and glad that this challenge got me started reading it.

5 comments:

The Holistic Knitter

This is on my listy for this year - I love George Eliot. Thanks for this review ;0)

Kris@Bookheart

Good for you that you're reading this book! I've only managed to watch and own the screen adaptation of Daniel Deronda with Hugh Dancy in the main role.

sunt_lacrimae_rerum

Hi John,

I would like to read "Daniel Deronda". I actually had a dream once that one of my cats WAS Daniel Deronda.

This is George Eliot's only novel that is set in the present day for her, I have heard. All of her other novels are set back, historically, by at least several years.

Jodie

I so wanted to love Deronda but things kept getting in the way like the author's serious contempt for about 70% of the population. By the end I had decided Elliot was a fantastic writer, great at detailing realistic human life but I would have hidden from her if I'd lived then. She was merciless about the women of her society.

John Z

Thanks to all who posted.

Jodie - I would be interesting in hearing more about how Eliot was "merciless about the women of her society," but if from "Daniel Deronda" would want to wait until I finish the book. In an article about the writing of "Adam Bede," I saw something where Eliot said that young men were her primary audienc.

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