George Eliot’s Deronda Notebooks: Introduction – and Excerpts (added 9/7)

Now that we’re reading the passages about Mordecai and his ideas, it might be useful to get a better sense of how George Eliot learned about Judaism and the Jewish diaspora – and in particular, how her research managed to feed her imagination as well as her intellect, so that she could try to enter the minds and experiences of a number of Jewish characters who were otherwise outside her immediate understanding.

I brought to our last meeting a thick book containing the Notebooks in which Eliot recorded her reading and study before and during the writing Daniel Deronda.  I’ll bring it with me again this week.  I also post here the Introduction to that volume which contains some interesting insight into Eliot’s methods.  — Tom

Introduction by editor Jane Irwin to Eliot’s Deronda Notebooks

“…George Eliot’s distinction as a novelist lies in her power to locate vivid impressions and dramatized experience within a considered and comprehensive intellectual framework of reference. The intelligence which sustains her fiction is nourished by extensive preparatory reading.” – Jane Irwin

ADDENDUM 9/7:  In order to give a flavor of Eliot’s scholarly research, I’ve arbitrary selected some sample pages from the 500+ published by Cambridge University Press. Eliot here makes notes about Jewish history and religious customs – and the women’s issues that have so angered Daniel’s mother.  The PDF contains about 12 eminently-skimmable pages.

Sample excerpts from Eliot’s Deronda Notebooks

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