George Eliot and Judaism


Daniel Deronda, the last novel by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans, 1819–1880), depicted a more sophisticated and sensitive view of Judaism in Britain than had previously been typical in English literature. Published in 1876 and set in contemporary society, the story deals with the experiences of Daniel Deronda as he moves between the English upper-class world and that of his Jewish community.  

Eliot’s sympathetic treatment of Zionist ideals, exposure of English ignorance and prejudice, and her implication that high Jewish spiritual and moral standards were often lacking in English society, attracted much comment. Jewish Austrian scholar David Kaufmann (1852–1899) approved, as shown in this critique of the novel from 1877, in George Eliot and Judaism.  

Though there are some errors and inconsistencies, he explains, Eliot has grasped the psychology of the Jewish experience. He contrasts this with the stereotypes portrayed by other writers, even those as accomplished as Charles Dickens (1812–1870).

Full title:
George Eliot and Judaism: An Attempt to Appreciate "Daniel Deronda"
David Kaufmann
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British Library

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