Lord Byron and George Eliot: Embracing National Identity in Daniel Deronda
Byron's Hebrew Melodies, published in 1815, were written as part of his musical collaboration with the Jewish composer Isaac Nathan. Even though anti-Semitism ran rampant through England during the Romantic period, Byron's Hebrew Melodies remain his most widely respected collection. Despite anti-Semitic prejudice in England during the nineteenth-century, Byron was not the only English writer to take up the Jewish plight as his subject matter. Almost sixty years later, George Eliot would take up a similar set of themes in her novel Daniel Deronda. Significantly, Eliot's novel not only discusses the Jewish desire for a homeland in detail, it does so with numerous, specific references to Byron and his works. Eliot uses both the Jewish plot of Daniel Deronda and Byron as agents to discuss how Victorian England could revive its own national character.
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