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George Eliot's 'Daniel Deronda' Notebooks by George Eliot

George Eliot's 'Daniel Deronda' Notebooks


George Eliot's 'Daniel Deronda' Notebooks by George Eliot

George Eliot's notebooks from the years 1872-77 contain memoranda of her reading while she was preparing for and writing Daniel Deronda, together with the 'Oriental Memoranda' and other notes she recorded in the year following the novel's publication. Above all, the notebooks reveal her acquisition of a wide range of learning about Judaism and provide insight into the creative process of integrating that learning into Daniel Deronda. One of these notebooks is published in this 1996 book; others are offered in new transcriptions. They are all presented in a form which demonstrates the intellectual coherence underlying the diversity of the memoranda: translations are provided for the notes in German, French, Italian, Greek, and Hebrew; explanatory notes are offered, and interpretative links are made to the novel; primary sources are traced and the chronology of Eliot's reading outlined.


Review of the hardback: 'This is essential reading for anyone interested in the sources of Daniel Deronda, the interpretation of those sources and their contextualised effects. The assemblage contains hitherto unpublished pages from the Berg Notebook, together with a reexamination of the Pforzheimer Notebooks. These notebooks and their commentary mark a major step towards the fuller appreciation of George Eliot's artistic dedication and the nature of her genius.
George Eliot

- G. H. Lewes Studies

About the Author

George Eliot was born Mary Anne (later Marian) Evans on 22 November 1819 at Arbury Farm in Warwickshire, where her father was estate manager. When she was five months old, the family moved to a farmhouse at Griff, her beloved home until she was twenty-one. Because of her father’s position, the young Marian had access to the library at Arbury Hall and made full use of it. She boarded at school in Coventry, where she studied a considerable range of literature and excelled at English composition and piano playing.

After her mother’s death in 1836 she became her father’s housekeeper. In 1841 the family moved to Coventry, where Marian was introduced to the free-thinking Charles Bray and his wife Cara. Their social circle greatly enriched her life, influencing her reading, her thinking and her early career. Her father died in 1849 when she was 30 – well past the normal marriageable age – but he left her £100 a year which gave her a certain amount of independence. She moved to London and became a distinguished editor of the Westminster Review, where she met the journalist George Henry Lewes. Lewes was still married to his wife, who had left him and their children, so he and Marian were unable to marry. Despite this, they lived together until his death in 1878. Marian’s rejection by her friends, family and society in general over her common law marriage is reflected in The Mill on the Floss.

Lewes was extremely supportive of Marian’s artistic endeavors and it was he who first encouraged her to write fiction. The success of Adam Bede, published in 1859, confirmed her literary powers. She adopted the masculine name George Eliot partly to distance herself from ‘silly’ female romance writers but also to cover up the tricky subject of her marital status. The publication of The Mill on the Floss in 1860 led to intense speculation about the author and eventually Marian came forward. Despite her fears of being shunned, her marital situation did not affect her popularity and she was even introduced to Princess Louise, who was a fan.

Her last book was Daniel Deronda, which was published in 1876. After Lewes’s death she once again courted controversy by marrying John Cross, a man twenty years younger than herself. However, she died not long afterwards of kidney disease, on 22 December 1880, at the age of 61.

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Book Info

Publication date

11th December 2008


George Eliot

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Author 'Like for Like'


Cambridge University Press


568 pages


Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers
Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900



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