ELIOT, GEORGE °, pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans (1819–1880), English novelist. A Christian, George Eliot was a friend of the talmudic scholar Emanuel *Deutsch, and began to study Hebrew and to show an interest in Jewish matters at an early age. Daniel Deronda (1874–76), her celebrated "Zionist" novel, was, however, her last great work of fiction. Possibly suggested by the career of Colonel A.E.W. *Goldsmid, the hero of this novel, after discovering his Jewish identity only in his 20s, eventually leaves for Palestine to help "revive the organic center" of his people's existence. Daniel Deronda influenced the early Zionist thinker Eliezer *Ben-Yehuda, and such Hebrew writers as I.L. *Peretz and P. *Smolenskin. Literary critics have severely criticized this novel complaining that the Zionist part is inflated, rhetorical, and not based on genuine observation. But it has been claimed that the author was writing a special kind of novel, dealing with the destinies of nations rather than individuals. George Eliot discussed the Jewish question again in "The Modern Hep-Hep," a strong attack on anti-Jewish prejudice published in a collection of essays entitled Theophrastus Such (1878).
G. Eliot, Daniel Deronda, ed. by B. Hardy (1967), with introd.; D. Kaufmann, George Eliot and Judaism (1877); N. Sokolow, History of Zionism 1600–1918, 1 (1919), 209–13; idem, Hibbath Zion (Eng., 1934), 105–27; A. Moeller, George Eliots Beschaeftigung mit dem Judentum und ihre Stellung zur Judenfrage (1934); M.F. Modder, The Jew in the Literature of England (1939), index; F.R. Leavis, The Great Tradition (1948); E. Rosenberg, From Shylock to Svengali (1961); Fisch, in: 19thCentury Fiction (March 1965); G.S. Haight, George Eliot, a Biography (1968); Leavis, in: Commentary, 30 (1960), 317–25. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Laski, George Eliot and Her World (1973); G. Levine (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to George Eliot (2001); S. Nurbhai, George Eliot, Judaism, and the Novels: Jewish Myth and Mysticism (2002); W. Baker, George Eliot and Judaism (1975).
[Harold Harel Fisch]