Segments in this Video

Introduction: The Political Vision of Daniel Deronda: Separateness with Communication (04:41)


In this lecture, Professor Ruth Wisse will discuss the Jewish community's existence within English society. Eliot saw assimilation and acculturation as threatening to both Jewish and British people. The novel shows how private lives determine national life, and vice versa.

Final Chapter (04:25)

Daniel, Mirah and Mordecai prepare to leave for Israel to fulfill the promise of Jewish nationalism. Wisse reads a passage describing Daniel and Mirah's wedding in fairy tale terms, written without irony. Marital union is linked with national consolidation.

Zionism Roots (05:23)

Jewish and Christian families bless Daniel and Mirah's union. Like Moses, Mordecai will not reach Israel, but he has guided Daniel there. Daniel Charisi also advocates Jewish nationalism, and despises indifference. His daughter Leonora finds him tyrannical; zealotry retains, repels, and retrieves.

Daniel's Calling (04:50)

Daniel’s idea of Jewish national liberation works through persuasion, rather than command. Jewish people voluntarily separated themselves into communities, but he wanted to be on equal terms with the British. Hear an excerpt in which he resolves to advance Jewish nationalism.

Separate with Communication (04:17)

Eliot had witnessed growing anti-Semitism and nationalism in Europe; it also threatened the British conception of England’s future. Jews would have to make themselves into an independent people. Daniel wants to maintain contact with other peoples.

Artificial Class Barriers (03:36)

Liberal ideals were blurring religious and ethnic differences in late 19th century Britain. Julian Klesmer and Catherine Arrowpoint's marriage is about devotion to music as a higher calling, rather than tolerance. Wisse argues that their values are also meaningful.

Developing Leadership (03:10)

Daniel places himself at the service of his people. He will have to honor both Mordecai's vision of returning to Israel, and his grandfather's transmission of Jewish tradition through kinship and material possessions. However, family life is easily disrupted.

Independent Nationhood (04:35)

Modernity threatens to undermine Jewish foundations, but Daniel cannot reject his Englishness. The British must adopt a model of coexistence, and accept Jewish sovereignty. Hear a passage in which Daniel explains his mission to Gwendolen, including their impersonal separateness.

Combatting Anti-Semitism (02:40)

The novel intends to facilitate communication to bring about Jewish sovereignty. Eliot wanted to solve anti-Jewish prejudice before it became acute, as in Europe; Wisse speculates how history would have been different, had the Zionist movement begun 20 years earlier.

Normalization Concept (05:32)

Wisse explains that the Jews would become politically unexceptional by re-establishing their homeland. They would have to persuade the British that nationhood was necessity for both parties. Hear negative reactions to the idea, including neglecting to account for Arabs living in Israel.

"Modern Hep, Hep, Hep!" (05:49)

In addition to addressing anti-Jewish prejudice, Eliot wrote "Daniel Deronda" to caution against British intolerance in the form of assimilation and intermarriage. Wisse quotes a passage from Eliot's essay advocating the right to nationhood and discusses why she chose to study literature.

Credits: The Political Vision of Daniel Deronda: Separateness with Communication (00:07)

Credits: The Political Vision of Daniel Deronda: Separateness with Communication

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The Political Vision of Daniel Deronda: Separateness with Communication

Part of the Series : Ruth Wisse Teaches Daniel Deronda
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3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



In the final part of an eight part lecture series on “Daniel Deronda,” Professor Ruth Wisse summarizes George Eliot’s great novel of nationalism. An expert on Yiddish and Jewish literature and winner of the National Humanities Medal, Wisse discusses the concept of the Jewish community remaining separate, yet communicating with other people and nations. With Mordecai’s support, Daniel embraces his calling to lead the pursuit of nationhood in Israel. However, he also maintains his English identity. In writing the novel, Eliot intended to facilitate communication to bring about Jewish sovereignty, as well as cautioning against British intolerance through assimilation, which she considered a threat to liberal democracy.

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: BVL133169

ISBN: 978-1-64023-764-3

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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