Serial Reading Guide for Daniel Deronda: Book Six (chs. 41-49)
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. Notice how a familiar theme continues to be explored: “It was his characteristic bias to shrink from the moral stupidity of valuing lightly what had come close to him, and of missing blindly in his own life of to-day the crisis which he recognized as momentous and sacred in the historic life of men” (in fact, see all of the first paragraph of chapter 41, page 449bn/509p).
2. Consider, in this part of the novel, what seems to be an emphasis on a somewhat new issue, the notion of a claim. What is the force or value of a “having a claim” or “making a claim” with regard to inheritance, parents and children, friendship, history, and religion. Also, what is the relationship between a claim and a promise?
3. The “Philosophers Cub” at the Hand and Banner pub (ch. 42) offers opinions about nationality, assimilation, growth, completion, and development. What might each of these terms mean to an individual, a nation, a family, or an idea?
4. Note how the exploration of the theme of inheritance is being intensified: what does it mean to inherit hatred, debt, wealth, and even life itself (as in reincarnation). Speaking of life itself, is Gwendolen going have a baby, and if not, why not? (Consider the provocative birth references in the epigraph to chapter 44.)
5. Nice line to describe one of the novel’s main interests: “But the romantic or unusual in real life requires some adaptation” (ch. 46, 500bn/567p).
6. Apologies for being cryptic here, but—What do you make of the rather roundabout way a certain set of facts is made known to the people involved in chapters 46 and 47?
7. Compare the issues of inheritance in chapter 48 with those earlier considered in chapter 42.