Daniel Deronda, Book Five

Serial Reading Guide for Daniel Deronda: Book Five (chs. 35-40)
Page numbers are indicated for the Barnes and Noble edition (2005) and the Penguin Classics edition (1995). For example, “107bn/123p” refers to page 107 in the Barnes and Noble edition and page 123 in the Penguin edition.

1. When are secrets good, and when are they bad?

2. Notice how Daniel, at the beginning of chapter 35, begins to about some of the issues we have been considering while reading the novel: “‘I fancy there are some natures one could see growing or degenerating every day, if one watched them,’ was his thought. ‘I suppose some of us go on faster than others: and I am sure she is a creature who keeps strong traces of anything that has once impressed her.’” Is Daniel going to become a kind of “double” for the narrator?

3. “He had impressed her as being not her admirer but her superior: in some mysterious way he was becoming a part of her conscience, as one woman whose nature is an object of reverential belief may become a new conscience to a man.” (366bn/415p) What might this line suggest about Gwendolen’s—and Daniel’s—futures?

4. What do you think Gwendolen can do—really do—about her life at this point?

5. What does Mirah mean to Hans? (And where’s Rex in all this?)

6. Notice how often the novel suggests that when we respond to other people, we are really responding to a combination of person-and-idea. For example, we hear that “generally in all deep affections the objects are a mixture—half persons and half ideas—sentiments and affections flow in together” (368bn/417p). Then, in the “Buddha and the tiger” scene, Mirah and Deronda refer to the “truth in thought” of good things (413bn/466p).

7. What do bridges suggest, literally and figuratively?

8. You may recall that the narrating style of Daniel’s backstory (ch. 16) and Mirah’s story (ch. 20) differed from the narrating style used for much of Gwendolen’s life. With narrative style in mind, what do you make of Mordecai’s story in chapter 38?

9. How would you describe the narrator’s remark on the “maternal transference of self” (438bn/495p) and Mordecai’s spirituality in general?

Next: Daniel Deronda: Book Six (chs. 41 – 49) >

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© Steven J. Venturino 2018