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The Political Vision of Daniel Deronda: Separateness with Communication

The Political Vision of Daniel Deronda: Separateness with Communication

Daniel Deronda is George Eliot’s great novel of nationalism.

Daniel Deronda is George Eliot’s great novel of nationalism. Through it, she gives voice to the restoration of Jewish pride and the distinctiveness of the Jewish people, ultimately urging a form of political nationhood and moral rejuvenation. But the novel’s teaching about the purpose and identity of nations has as much to do with British liberalism as it does with the Jewish people. Professor Wisse draws out the political vision of Daniel Deronda by interpreting Eliot’s phrase “separateness with communication.” Is homogeneity the ideal of political community, or can a society nurture distinct ways of life within it?