Daniel Deronda Serial Reading Guide

This guide will help you read George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda in eight sessions. It can also help teachers bring a serial reading of this novel to students.

This serial reading guide is not designed to be read all at once, but studied in parts, along with the corresponding parts of the novel.

Daniel Deronda was first published from February through September of 1876, in monthly installments of approximately 110 pages each. Victorian readers enjoyed and absorbed the novel one portion at a time, discussing the story’s gradual unfolding with friends and family and anticipating the turns each new installment would take. Eliot’s original installments will naturally form the framework of these serial readings.

Begin with the first part of the guide (for “Book One” of the novel, as it is indicated in all editions), then read only Book One. At that point, stop and reconsider the questions and issues raised in the serial reading guide. These “enforced pauses,” as the novel’s original readers encountered them, offer the chance to absorb some of the dense matrix of plot, character, theme, and style that the novel establishes. Items in each study guide provide spoiler-free prompts for focusing on specific issues, moments, and even sentences that are significant not only for the installment at hand, but for subsequent points in the novel.

After consideration of Book One, read through the second serial reading guide and proceed to Book Two of the novel. You will find that your experience of the novel is already becoming deeper and your observations more acute. After you’ve covered Book Two, review the study guide for Book Three, and move on to that installment, and so on.

Over the course of a novel of nearly eight hundred pages, you will find that the enforced pauses and discussion points offered by the serial reading guides help you to retain plot details, appreciate subtle character traits and relationships, analyze thematic points, and learn from the narrator’s voice. In short, you will grow into the novel itself, as the novel’s details grow into your own experience and concerns.

Any edition of Daniel Deronda will do, since the guide refers to chapter numbers, which will be the same across all editions. Page numbers are occasionally included for specific references, and these page numbers refer to two recommended print editions: the Barnes & Noble and Penguin Classics editions.

The original posting for my Newberry Library Seminar is here.

Links to the Daniel Deronda serial reading guide:

Book One (chs. 1-10)
Book Two (chs. 11-18)
Book Three (chs. 19-27)
Book Four (chs. 28-34)
Book Five (chs. 35-40)
Book Six (chs. 41-49)
Book Seven (chs. 50-57)
Book Eight (chs. 58-70)

Next: Serial reading guide for Daniel Deronda, Book 1 (chs. 1 – 10) >

Image: Romola Garai and Hugh Dancy, from Daniel Deronda (2002, BBC), directed by Tom Hooper.

The Age of Innocence Serial Reading Guide

This guide will help you read Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence in three sessions. The parts of the guide should not be read all at once, but read in conjunction with the relevant “installment” of the novel.

Begin by reading through part 1 (there will be no spoilers). Then read the corresponding portion of The Age of Innocence  (chapters 1 through 9). That’s all–stop there. The point of serial reading is to pause at certain points to consider what you have just read and anticipate what may come.

After reading the installment, reread part 1 of the guide, making any notes of agreement, disagreement, and observation that you like. Then follow the same procedure with part 2 and the indicated portion of the novel. And so on.

If you are a teacher, you can also use this guide to structure course readings, class discussion, and essay assignments.

Wharton’s novel was originally published in four parts in 1920. My arrangement speeds up the reading experience just a bit. As noted, part 1 covers  the first nine chapters of the novel. The other two parts cover about 100 pages each. Part 2 takes you from chapter 10 to chapter 21. Part 3 moves from chapter 22 to the end of the book at chapter 34.

Next: Part 1 of the serial reading guide for The Age of Innocence (chs. 1 – 9) >

Links to The Age of Innocence serial reading guide:

Part One: Chs. 1 – 9
Part Two: Chs. 10 – 21
Part Three: Chs. 22 – 34

My original Newberry Library Seminar posting is here.

Image: Katharine Cornell as Ellen Olenska in a 1929 stage production of The Age of Innocence. From the New York Public Library Digital Collections.