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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Friday, November 18, 2016

All of the major characters come together for a really awkward scene in Daniel Deronda

In the long meandering section of Daniel Deronda on the Zionism and the Jews-of-London subplot, we'd almost forgotten about the lead female character, Gwendolen, but we catch up with her again and, to no one's surprise, she's miserable in her marriage, her husband, Grandcourt, is a bully and a prig, her only consolation, if it's that, is that her marriage lifted her mother (and uncle Gascgoigne?) out of poverty, but was that a reason for her to throw her vibrant, promising life away in a loveless marriage? What's worse, she frets that her husband still has some kind of attachment to his ex-mistress, Mrs. Glasher (had to look it up, thought it was Grasher) - this is the woman who, prompted by the meddling and sinister "friend" Lush, warned Gwendolen that she shouldn't marry Grandcourt and made her promise never to reveal this conversation - a completely impossible and unfair demand, in my opinion, but never the less Gwendolen tries to honor this commitment and not discuss what she knows about Glasher w/ her husband. Interestingly, all of the major characters (except Mordecai) come together in a scene - we're now about 3/4 of the way through this long novel - at which the music instructor Klesmer arranges a private performance by the "jewess," Mirah; she is willing to sing in the hope of getting some work as a voice coach; at this very awkward party, Gwendolen, Grandcourt, DD, Mirah, Klesmer (who told Gwendolen she didn't have the talent of drive to become a pro singer), and Mrs. Klesmer (Gwendolen's best childhood companion and stepsister, Anna - in a marriage her family opposed, to that "jew, that gypsy) all come together and we see the strands, cracks, and adhesions in their inter-relationships - most notably, Gwendolen's continued infatuation w/ DD and is relative indifference, as he's now smitten w/ Mirah. Why exactly he's holding off on the big reveal - introducing Mirah to her long-lost brother, Mordecai - isn't clear except insofar as it supports Eliot's need to extend the plot and the tension - but the outstanding question is how deeply DD will be drawn into Mordecai's Zionist quest and into the orbit of the charming but seriously traumatized Mirah.

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