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The Jewish Odyssey of George Eliot


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About the Author

Gertrude Himmelfarb, professor emeritus at the Graduate School of the City University, has written extensively on intellectual and cultural history with a focus on Victorian England. Her most recent books are The Moral Imagination: From Edmund Burke to Lionel Trilling and The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004 she received the National Humanities Medal awarded by the President.


"In this groundbreaking study of George Eliot, Gertrude Himmelfarb offers a fascinating and deeply persuasive understanding of Eliot's extraordinary sympathy for Jewish identity, Jewish religion, and ultimately, Jewish nationalism. A work of rare originality and insight. Simply brilliant." --Charles Krauthammer "In this compelling and inspiring narrative, elegantly woven from strands historical, biographical, philosophical, and literary, our finest historian of Victorian England provides a brilliant interpretation of Daniel Deronda, the final novel of Victorian England's greatest novelist, vindicating its artistic integrity and intellectual importance against its many critics. Ms. Himmelfarb also illuminates George Eliot's remarkably prescient and still relevant perspectives on Zionism and "the Jewish Question," concluding with her own profound reflections on the intimate connections of religion and politics to personal identity. A tour de force." --Leon R. Kass and Amy A. Kass, The University of Chicago "In The Jewish Odyssey of George Eliot, a brave and bravura excavation of a prophetic artist's mind, Gertrude Himmelfarb at last opens to us the George Eliot who has too long been snubbed -- sometimes on aesthetic grounds, but more often with full disparaging intent. In so doing, Himmelfarb catapults George Eliot into the thick of the great central maelstrom of our own moment, when Daniel Deronda ceases to be a Victorian novel only, and boldly enters the twenty-first century. Through the lenses of history, culture, philosophy, politics, and literary art, Himmelfarb, in this innovative and dazzling study, reveals how Daniel Deronda -- not unlike Uncle Tom's Cabin -- has had its role in succoring and renewing a people; and how it serves as a prescient rebuke to both Sartre and Said. --Cynthia Ozick "Gertrude Himmelfarb leads us through the mystery of why, in the 1870s, Britain's leading novelist, a woman with no Jewish connections, should have chosen to write a book about Jewish identity and the return to Zion. A masterly work, sensitive, profoundly moving, and exceptionally timely." --Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth

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