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Monday, June 03, 2013

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

Book Review
Daniel Deronda
by George Eliot
p. 1876

  Yeah so I figure I spent 450 minutes reading this book?  God that's like a whole day of my life.  Reading Daniel Deronda.  It clocks in at 978 pages flat.  Here's how I read this book.  I would figure out some time in the day when I would have 45 minutes available, and then i had the print size set large enough so that I could read a "page" in a few seconds, and then I would just page through like a demon until I had made it 10% down the road.  It was a joyless affair, I don't mind telling you.

  All I could think about while I was reading Daniel Deronda is that people back then must have had so much time to sit around and read books.  Seriously, who has 8 hours to read this book?  The decriptions of Daniel Deronda have described it as Eliots most "experimental" novel, and I suppose that's true by the stadards of novelistic experimentation circa 1870.  Half the book is devoted to a stadard marriage/inheritance plot involving the beautiful and shallow Gwendolen Grandcourt nee Harleth.  She is one of the more unsympathetic Victorian era heroines, someone who marries for money and then acts suprised that life isn't just a bowl of cherries afterward.  The other half involves the titular character, who is the adopted "son"of a wealthy English Baron but yearns to know about his birth parents.

  Along the way Deronda rescues Mirah Lapidoth, a young Jewess in distress, and probably the first literary Jewish heroine in British literature since Rebecca in Sir Walter Scotts's Ivanhoe half a century earlier.  It's clear that Eliot means to provide a sympathetic portrayal of Judaism but it's hard not to wince at some oc the more stereotypical descriiptions of Jews provided by Eliot.

  Over all though Daniel Deronda is simply exhausting because it's close to a thousand pages long.  Who does that?  And who reads that book in 2013?  Me I guess.

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