(Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood & Sons, 1876). 182 x 120 mm. (7 1/8 x 4 3/4"). With errata slips in books 2 and 7, advertisements at front of each part (and also at end of book 7), and slips announcing the publication date of the following part at end of books 1-7. Eight books, as issued. FIRST EDITION, First Printing, First Issue, in eight parts (books).
Attractive 20th century Venetian red morocco by Zaehnsdorf, boards with gilt rule border, raised bands, gilt-ruled spine compartments, gilt titling, gilt-rolled turn-ins, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. With the original wrappers bound in at the front and rear of each of the books. Baker & Ross A-11.1.a1; Sadleir 813. A CHOICE COPY, with only the most trivial imperfections, THE CONTENTS, INCLUDING THE WRAPPERS, IN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE CONDITION, and the bindings unworn.
This is a copy in outstanding condition of the original monthly installments of George Eliot’s final novel, and perhaps her most radical work. At a time when the works of such masters as Dickens and Trollope depicted Jewish characters in a most unflattering way, this novel is "notable for its exposure of Victorian anti-Semitism," with warm and sympathetic portrayals of Jews and Zionism that "evoked grateful praise from Jewish readers." (Encyclopedia Britannica) DNB notes that Eliot (1819-80) "had become interested in Judaism through her friendship with Emanuel Deutsch, an orientalist employed by the British Museum, who taught her Hebrew. Deutsch had a vision of a Jewish homeland in the East; he travelled to Palestine, and died in Alexandria in 1873. [Eliot] sympathized with his idealism, and was also irritated by the routine antisemitism she encountered among her acquaintances. She told [her publisher] that she had wanted in Daniel Deronda to 'widen the English vision a little.'" Just as her Zionist Jewish hero was an anomaly in Victorian literature, so was Eliot's empathetic depiction of a spoiled society girl who marries for money. Gwendolen Harleth is an intelligent woman, but when her family fortune is lost she chooses a loveless marriage to a wealthy man over life as a governess. Day observes that "marriage for the wrong reasons, usually monetary, is a familiar theme in the Victorian novel, but no contemporary matches George Eliot in the analysis of moral wretchedness and self-scorn as experienced by Gwendolen." According to Britannica, this "keen analysis . . . seems to many critics the peak of [her] achievement." The state of preservation here is remarkable, especially of the fragile wrappers, which, when they are found, are virtually always torn, wrinkled, or soiled. (ST15170)
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PJP Catalog: NY19BF.072