Sunday, November 20, 2016
A near-revelation in Daniel Deronda and a guess about where this novel is heading
The section "Revalations" in Daniel Deronda does conclude with a revelation, kind of, as Sir Hugo, who has raised DD from infancy and whom DD suspects may be his father (which would make DD a potential heir to his title), hands DD a letter that he says will reveal his actual parentage; he says he has withheld this information from DD for all this time at the request of DD's mother, but now he has her blessing to reveal the truth. What does DD do? Puts the letter - unread - into a jacket pocket! Who would do that? Only an author who wants to keep her readers guessing until the next installment. Well, we get one bit of info, as DD asks Sir Hugo: Is my father living? The answer is, no - so that seems to be a blow to DD, but we suspect not a fatal blow. In the previous chapter there was a very nasty confrontation: Gwendolen, who is in a miserable marriage to the wealthy Grandcourt but who still maintains a crush on DD, invites DD over to have a private conversation. That seems like dangerous grounds, and it is - as Grandcourt becomes suspicious when Gwendolen says she's not feeling well and will skip an opportunity to ride horses; Grandcourt turns back and surprises Gwendolen in mid-conversation. DD leaves abruptly - it's surprising that Grandcourt doesn't challenge him to a duel on the spot - and the next day Grandcourt tells Gwendolen he's going away "yachting" for a few months - and she's coming with him. What a time that will be - cute couple stashed away together - sounds like a Polanski movie. All signs are point toward Gwendolen and Deronda getting together, though Eliot is a lot tougher and more cynical than Dickens or Trollope - this is not a romance, and I suspect things will not end happily ever after. I am anticipating a more "American" ending, with characters, or at least the lead character, heading off "into the wilderness" to pursue his ideals (Zionism) or his ideal (Mirah).