• Eliot’s final novel, Daniel Deronda (1876), has often been seen as problematic,
    and for one major reason: the so-called Jewish storyline. The common sentiment
    that the novel was one of two distinct halves, one vastly superior to the other, was
    expressed most famously by F. R. Leavis in The Great Tradition (1948), where
    he refers to the Jewish plot as the ‘bad half’ of the novel (80), and proceeds to
    rename the ‘good half’, ‘Gwendolen Harleth’ (85). Daniel Deronda, however,
    is a brilliantly constructed narrative, in which both of the two interweaving
    storylines play an integral role. By considering this novel alongside the artistic
    debt George Eliot owed to the German composer, Richard Wagner, the necessity,
    and beauty, of the Jewish storyline is revealed. Moreover, in bringing together
    Daniel Deronda, and Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Eliot’s ongoing fascination
    with the composer, his works, and his theories of ‘modern music’, can be explored
    in all their many contradictions, and the Wagnerian aspects of Eliot’s final novel
    can be further uncovered.