George Eliot’s Klesmer
The formidable musician Julius Klesmer stands out in the reader’s memory among the two or three finest creations in Daniel Deronda. Though only a secondary character, he performs several important functions in the novel. Like Daniel he acts as mentor to both Gwendolen and Mirah, his opinions of their singing placing them in a strong contrast maintained throughout the story. His brutal dismissal of Gwendolen’s dream of earning her living as a singer or actress marks the beginning of her painful effort to face reality, and provides an eloquent statement of the artist’s proper place in society. Finally, in Klesmer’s marriage love and mutual interests overcome the same obstacle that confronted Gwendolen in hers — disparity of wealth and social position — a happy note too often forgotten by the critics who insist on seeing Daniel Deronda as a melancholy book.
KeywordsSecondary Character Walk Away Grand Feature Wooden Hammer Fine Creation
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- This essay first appeared in Imagined Worlds: Essays on Some English Novels and Novelists in Honour of John Butt, ed. Maynard Mack (London: Methuen, 1968) pp. 205–14.Google Scholar