Segments in this Video

Introduction: Jewish Nationalism (03:40)


In this lecture, Professor Ruth Wisse will examine what prompted George Eliot to undertake a novel promoting the restoration of Israel as a Jewish nation. In 1866, she met Emmanuel Deutsch, who introduced her to the Talmud and tutored her in Hebrew.

"Daniel Deronda" Inspiration (03:01)

Deutsch traveled to Palestine in 1869. He shared his vision of restoring a Jewish homeland with Eliot, and is a model for Mordecai's character. Eliot's relationship to Deutsch mirrors that of Daniel to Mordecai.

Daniel and Mordecai Meet (05:11)

Wisse reads a passage describing the characters' first encounter. It views Mordecai from prophetic, tragic and ordinary perspectives. Daniel fulfills Mordecai's search for a messenger.

Philosophy Links (04:23)

Mordecai's ideas recall mysticism, but he speaks less about beliefs than about Jewish destiny. He constructs a neshama yeseira, or extra soul, for Daniel. Wisse connects Eliot’s translation of Spinoza to Mordecai's character.

Eliot vs. Stowe (03:06)

Wisse compares Eliot's case for Jewish nationalism to Harriet Beecher Stowe's case for abolitionism in "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Stowe appealed to Christian morality, but Eliot also had to make intellectual arguments for political sovereignty.

Power of Ideas in Affecting Social Change (04:18)

Wisse discusses Mordecai's intentions in arguing for Jewish nationalism at a philosophy club debate. Personality and ideas persuade a group's sympathies. As Daniel supports Mordecai's case, Eliot supports Deutsch's case.

Jewish Nationalism Debate (05:36)

Wisse outlines arguments against Mordecai's vision of a Jewish homeland, expressed at a philosophical forum in Chapter 42. British Jews see nationalism as a "dead" idea and are content to assimilate to English society. Hear Mordecai's response invoking Spinoza and America.

Embryonic Zionism (04:34)

Chapter 42 reflects late 19th century nationalism debates in the Jewish community; members expressed gratitude to Eliot for the novel. Wisse contrasts it with "Nathan the Wise" and addresses ongoing nationalist questions.

Subordinating the Religious to the National (05:23)

Mordecai's ideas speak to the English society, in danger of losing faith and morality. Eliot's sense of urgency to found a Jewish nation is mirrored in Mordecai's. Wisse discusses the novel's inclusion of ideas and emotions to affect social change.

Credits: Jewish Nationalism (00:07)

Credits: Jewish Nationalism

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Jewish Nationalism

Part of the Series : Ruth Wisse Teaches Daniel Deronda
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In the sixth part of an eight part lecture series on “Daniel Deronda,” Professor Ruth Wisse discusses George Eliot’s inspiration for writing a novel in support of Jewish nationalism decades before Theodor Herzl wrote The Jewish State. An expert on Yiddish and Jewish literature and winner of the National Humanities Medal, Wisse draws parallels between Eliot’s relationship to her mentor, Emmanuel Deutsch, and Daniel’s relationship to Mordecai Ezra. She analyzes arguments against Mordecai’s vision from within the Jewish community, and examines Mordecai’s “embryonic Zionist” speech in Chapter 42 that also speaks to 19th century English society.

Length: 40 minutes

Item#: BVL133167

ISBN: 978-1-64023-762-9

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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