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

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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Trying to figure out the likely coutcomes in Daniel Deronda

The ever more odious Grandcourt now is scheming to get back into the good graces of Gwendolen - OK on the one hand he recognizes, I think, that she has no money or title to bring to him, so perhaps his love for her is genuine, and perhaps the whole mysterious back story - that he had a relationship with and children by another woman whom he has refused to marry - may be a false - but why is he so unlikable, kind of a dolt and very nasty to his right-hand-man Mr. Lush? Is his desire for Gwendolen something only stirred by an incipient rivalry w/ another suitor - Deronda - spurred only by the desire to get what someone else wants? In a more conventional comedy of manners, the truth would all come out, we'd learn that Grandcourt is a good man who whose chances for happiness in marriage were (nearly) ruined by the scheming servant, Mr. Lush, and he would prove himself to Gwendolen and marry her and lift her and her family out of (near) poverty. Yet Eliot's is not a conventional novel: I suspect the Grandcourt is as shallow and narcissistic as he seems, that Gwendolen is making a series of terrible mistake and decisions, and that even the sympathetic, eponymous Deronda - who really, about 1/3 way through the novel, is pretty much a secondary character - will prove to be not right for Gwendolen, either not good enough for her or too good: the sub-plot of the Jewess rescued from drowning will have to play a role. Can she possibly be a serious love interest for Deronda? Or would that be too scandalous? In other words - to Eliot's credit - I have no idea who will end up with whom, and whether the assortment of couples at the end will be conventionally comic or much more wry, foreboding, and dark - and I suspect, knowing Eliot's sharp (and sometimes even impenetrable) wit and intelligence, the latter, more unconventional outcome.

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