Daniel Deronda is my new obsession, so I might as well run with it. Here are some favorite quotes from the book. George Eliot, I salute you.
“I suppose we faulty creatures can never feel so much for the irreproachable as for those who are bruised in the struggle with their own faults. . . Lives are enlarged in different ways. I daresay some would never get their eyes opened if it were not for a violent shock from the consequences of their own actions.”
“The most powerful movement of feeling with a liturgy is the prayer which seeks for nothing special, but is a yearning to escape from the limitations of our own weakness and an invocation of all Good to enter and abide with us.”
On the Pintele Yid
“Suppose the stolen offspring of some mountain tribe brought up in a city of the plain, or one with an inherited genius for painting and born blind – the ancestral life would lie within them as a dim longing for unknown objects and sensations, and the spell-bound habit of their inherited frames would be like a cunningly-wrought musical instrument, never played on, but quivering throughout in uneasy mysterious moanings of its intricate structure that, under the right touch, gives music.”
On Resisting Assmiliation
“But I could not make myself not a Jewess,” said Mirah, insistently, “even if I changed my belief.”
“No, my dear. But if Jews and Jewesses went on changing their religion and making no difference between themselves and Christians, there would come a time when there would be no Jews to be seen,” said Mrs. Meyrick, taking that consummation very cheerfully.
“Oh, please not to say that,” said Mirah, the tears gathering. “It is the first unkind thing you ever said. I will not begin that. I will never separate myself from my mother’s people. . . I will always be a Jewess. I will love Christians when they are good people, like you. But I will always cling to my people. I will always worship with them.”
As Mirah had gone on speaking she had become possessed with a sorrowful passion – fervent, not violent. Holding her little hands tightly clasped and looking at Mrs. Meyrick with beseeching, she seemed to Deronda a personification of that spirit which impelled men after a long inheritance of professed Catholicism to leave wealth and high place, and to risk their lives in flight that they might join their own people and say, “I am a Jew.”
On Jewish Separateness
“The Shema, wherein we briefly confess the divine Unity is the chief devotional exercise of the Hebrew; and this made our religion the fundamental religion for the whole world; for the divine Unity embraced as its consequence the ultimate unity of mankind. See, then – the nation which has been scoffed at for its separateness has given a binding theory to the human race.”
On Existence Itself
“The ‘Omnipresent,’ said a Rabbi, ‘is occupied in making marriages.’
The levity of the saying lies in the ear of him who hears it; for by marriages the speaker meant all the wondrous combinations of the universe whose issue makes our good and evil.”