Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Note To A Friend On Phasing Into Daniel Deronda After Finishing The Brothers Karamazov

Note to a friend on phasing into Daniel Deronda after having finished The Brothers Karamazov who shares my view that we all should have one "great novel" on the go at all times:

...I found Bros K tough to finish but forced myself and am 10 xs better off for it. It's an amazing reading experience, like a sublime opera of novels. Let me know when you finish it: I have some thoughts and questions to bounce off you. Don't, I suggest, discuss it or check it out while you're reading it because there's a murder mystery working its way through all the rest going on.

I'm finding Daniel Deronda enjoyable reading and "easy," in a sense, after Dostoyevsky. I'm just at the part when Gwen comes back from gambling after learning her family's fortune is lost and puts her the shoulder of her will against the supposed inevitability of her and her family living in reduced circumstances.

It interests me, among other things, and apart from my obvious interest in Eliot's treatment of the theme of Jewishness, how she weaves in some characters'--so far, Gwen, Deronda (and maybe Grandcourt) bouts of existential dread in advance of the 20th century.

Another thing, Eliot was notoriously physically ugly and it's intriguing to consider her descriptions of Gwen's vivacious looks keeping that in mind and to consider the characterological superiority of Ms Arrowpoint.

One thought: a purely random event got me back to Lionel Trilling and I got a copy of his The Liberal Imagination and a book about him by TNR's Adam Kirsch Why Trilling Matters. It's all that that got me back to great novels. I tend to line up my reading by where Trilling's essays point. Even if you don't pursue that, I'd recommend Trilling's essays in themselves as terrifically worthwhile reading...

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