Daniel Deronda, Book Eight

Serial Reading Guide for Daniel Deronda: Book Eight (chs. 58-70)
Page numbers are indicated for the Barnes and Noble edition (2005) and the Penguin Classics edition (1995). For example, “107bn/123p” refers to page 107 in the Barnes and Noble edition and page 123 in the Penguin edition.

1. Consider how Eliot begins the final book of this novel—how the “curtain raises” on the action, inviting us to reflect on many of the issues we have followed all along.

2. Rex? Rex? Will he be back? . . . .

3. Throughout this concluding installment, notice how frequently we encounter references (made by characters as well as the narrator) to coincidences, fictions, “adventures that end well,” melodrama, and novels, and interpretations. Could Eliot be teasing us about the tradition of keeping life and literature separate? And speaking of melodrama, could that be just what Daniel does get involved with in chapter 68?

4. What do you think of the concept of “the balance of separateness and communication,” mentioned in chapters 60 and 61, for example.

5. What specifically brings about Deronda’s new “epoch in resolve” (end of ch. 60, 635bn/725p)

6. Key messages:
– “‘The Omnipresent,’ said a Rabbi, ‘is occupied in making marriages.’ The levity of the saying lies in the ear of him who hears it; for by marriages the speaker meant all the wondrous combinations of the universe whose issue makes our good and evil” (final paragraph of ch. 62).

– “In this way our brother may be in the stead of God to us” (ch. 64, 669bn/763p).

7. Is Gwendolen changed in chapter 65? Note the key scene at the end.

8. Why would Eliot break the novelist’s rule of “no new characters at the end”?

9. Compare Gwendolen and Daniel’s conversation in ch. 69 with practically any other conversation they’ve had. What differences and similarities do you notice?

This concludes the Daniel Deronda serial reading guide.

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© Steven J. Venturino 2018