FROM HOME TO HOMELAND: THE BOHEMIAN IN DANIEL DERONDA.
But inside and outside it was what no beholder could suppose to be inhabited by retired tradespeople: a certainty which was worth many conveniences to tenants who not only had the taste that shrinks from new finery, but also were in the border-territory of rank where annexation is a burning topic. (1:28)
Socio-economic anxiety, the possibility of falling into a lower class, is assuaged here by the "certainty" of having "taste." But the sentence nevertheless culminates in a striking metonymic figure: the English upper classes are depicted as a "border-territory" vulnerable to "annexation." Despite the certainty of taste, the Englishmen of the passage face a double-edged threat in an annexation of which they may be either objects or agents.
Collapsing anxiety and ambition in this way hypothetical annexation presumes a plot of social positioning perfectly in keeping with the conventions of the Continental drawing-room comedy of manners. What is interesting here, however, is that the domestic discourse of the manor house is taken over by territorial tropes. Interrupting the description of the Offendene home, a new catechrestic figure emerges: the geopolitical rhetoric that seizes on a border-territory's vulnerability to annexation in order to represent socioeconomic uncertainty presumes that it is possible to match the idea of a home to the idea of a national territory.
In this sense the domestic figure that dominates Gwendolyn's homecoming not only conveys a sense of nationalistic anxiety, but locates that anxiety in a particular social class. As Bourdieu has maintained, this class is not defined, as Marx would have it, by its economic relationship to the means of production, but by a complicated notion of prestige--a prestige whose reactionary anti-materialist modesty relies nevertheless on a tacit elitism. So it is that the shabby "somber furniture and faded upholstery" (1:28) of Offendene, Gwendolyn's subjunctive home, is morally preferable to the wealthy and onomastically tainted Diplow and Ryelands. Removed both from secure land and from capitalist enterprise, the border-territory that functions as Gwendolyn's adopted home tells the story of the way in which class identity can be somehow implicated in an unsettled sense of national consciousness. The passage thus indicates that the English novel of 1876 is no longer about class, but about nation.
Given these variables, it is no wonder that the domestic lines of development of Daniel Deronda will ultimately turn away from the home and towards a more abstracted community: the homeland. Although the domestic community of a household can be abstracted, in theory, in the minds of those who have left it, it can also be experienced first hand. The domestic community of a nation, however, can only be imagined. As Benedict Anderson has argued, the nation "is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion."(2) Abstracted, imagined, the community of the nation poses a set of new difficulties for the narrating of late-nineteenth-century domesticity.
Offendene is Gwendolyn's subjunctive home in the sense that Eliot uses this house that is not home as an occasion for ruminating on the origins of that "wider life"--that broader vision whose conspicuous absence is of such pressing concern to the narrator:
Pity that Offendene was not the home of Miss Harleth's childhood, or endeared to her by family memories! A human life, I think, should be well rooted in some spot of native land, where it may get the love of tender kinship for the face of the earth, for the labours men go forth to, for the sounds and accents that haunt it, for whatever will give that early home a familiar unmistakable difference amidst the future widening of knowledge: a spot where the definiteness of early memories may be inwrought with affection, and kindly acquaintance with all neighbours, even to the dogs and donkeys, may spread not by sentimental effort and reflection, but as a sweet habit of the blood. (1:26)
A human life should have a native home base because that is where a series of desirable desires are shaped. The operative phrase of the second sentence's complicated syntax is "love of tender kinship for." A home cultivates "love of tender kinship for" a host of objects: for earth, for labor, for sounds and accents, for whatever will preserve the home in memory. The home emerges here as an intellectual ability, a way of thinking "amidst the future widening of knowledge." It is a way of thinking that looks very much like what Harry Frankfurt calls a "second order desire," by which he designates a desire for a desire: "Besides wanting and choosing and being moved to do this or that, men may also want to have (or not to have) certain desires and motives."(3) For Frankfurt, desire of a second order differentiates humans from animals; it is the sign taken as a precondition for civilization, which is precisely what Eliot is interested in when she talks about the good of "some spot of native land." Such a spot of native land produces that higher state of civilization known to intellectuals as universalism; for Eliot's virtually Germanic compound subject, "love of kinship for mankind" designates, not a love of mankind, but a love of loving mankind, that is, a type of second order desire. As both sign of and precondition for, second order desires can be both cause and consequence of civilization. And so Eliot's phrase, "a love of kinship for universal mankind" invokes a desire of a desire as an object impossibly connected to civilization, to "the labours men go forth to," but her protracted syntax circumloquates how native soil produces love of kinship for humanity. For at the same time that native land produces love of kinship for "the face of the earth" (humanity), for the work men do and the languages they speak, the ultimate direct object is "for whatever will give that early home a familiar, unmistakable difference," which is to say, this love of kinship for universal mankind returns us tautologically to loving our original spot of native land.
Although Henry James, in reviewing Daniel Deronda for The Nation (24 February 1876), praised the novel for its sense of the universal,(4) the famous Offendene passage discloses a central ambiguity in how Eliot constructs events that transform, as another reviewer put it, Daniel's "capacities into acquisitions, by leading him home to his own race."(5) Eliot wants to convince her readers not only that this figure of racial homecoming signals the materiality of interiority, the making of a capacity into an acquisition, inner quality into outer property (exactly the opposite of what Jeff Nunokaowa has rightly claimed she does in earlier novels),(6) but that racial homecoming can also signal a higher state of civilization: universality. The question emerges as to why the narrative should strain so to use the home as a representation of universality. For how can an object marked by its "unmistakable difference" function as a producer of universal kinship, that is, of sameness:
James's comment is based on Klesmer's denunciation of a Bellini aria as an expression of "a puerile state of culture--no sense of the universal." And his conclusion remains true as long as Eliot confines herself to the international world of professional art. But when Eliot attempts to locate that sense of the universal in a habit of the blood, the narrative falters. The idea that domesticity, imagined here as habits of the blood, can produce a higher state of civilization, one based on a second order desire like universality, gets lost in the muddle of the passage's protracted syntax, as if to suggest that in the metaphoric expansion of the home into the nation, the distinction between fantasy and reality, novel and experience, is unsuccessfully camouflaged. This is important to the history of literary domesticity in so far as Eliot's failure to make the home the nation calls into question the usefulness of metaphorical domesticity in the legitimization of extradomestic activities at all. Whereas Margaret Oliphant, for example, like many other conservative Victorian feminists, could envision an expansion of the female private sphere by collapsing public politics into drawing-room sociability, Eliot's narration discloses the speciousness of publicizing the private. As this discussion will hopefully demonstrate, the novel's home fails to expand, cannot fill the cultural universalism that forms its outside space, because Eliot makes it clear that the act of making the home public by making it professional is an artistic act. By making the artistry of professionalizing the home overt, Eliot's domesticity must unmask the essential oxymoron at the heart of the professional home. This disclosure takes shape in the terms of an intellectual's vocational crisis and his or her remedial turn to nationalism for a succor that will reinscribe the amateur-professional dialectic in novelistic discourse.
Citizen of the World: Imagined Domesticity and Impartiality
Let us return to the Offendene passage and further explore how Eliot traces love of kinship for universal mankind to territorial instincts. In a muffled echo of Burke's conception of the nation's origins, Eliot uses domesticity here to discuss the origins of civilization.(7) As if to explain the apparent circularity of the argument, she enjoins another set of metaphors:
At five years old, mortals are not prepared to be citizens of the world, to be stimulated by abstract nouns, to soar above preference into impartiality; and that prejudice in favor of milk with which we blindly begin, is a type of the way body and soul must get nourished at least for a time. The best introduction to astronomy is to think of the nightly heavens as a little lot of stars belonging to one's own homestead. (1:26-27)
Although Eliot ranks "preference" below "impartiality," preference--or prejudice--is still the only road to those higher impartial ways. But "impartiality" raises a set of difficult issues for the novel, particularly in the context of the grammar according to which Daniel's heroism is inscribed. Rather than beginning with a preference that will take him to impartiality, Daniel begins at the end, already occupying that impartial state.
Daniel's impartiality initially emerges as a tragic flaw in a scene that seems to satirize what is now called professional culture at the same time as it devalues domestic surrogacy. When the receipt of a letter from a Cambridge Don gives Daniel's surrogate uncle Sir Hugo an "air at once business-like and leisurely" (1:262), Daniel sees an unexpected opportunity. The "air," metonymically transferred through the letter to the London home from Oxbridge, positions Sir Hugo as a familiar intermediary who will secure for his promising young "nephew" placement in a profession by taking advantage of any number of family networks, a common means to successful professional establishment in the days before the 1870s' and 1880s' civil service and educational reforms.(8) The reference to Sir Hugo's proximity to Cambridge Dondom, however, does not incite Daniel to pursue information about the expected family connection (the Oxbridge contact), but rather spurs him on to inquiring into another family connection, the very literal question of his mysterious heritage and feared illegitimate birth. Professional protocol yields narrative space to a story fraught with potential psychological resonance.
Only a paragraph earlier, the novel makes it clear that Daniel is haunted by his imagined illegitimacy: Daniel begins his novel with "his mind turned to a cabinet of estate maps in the library, where he had once seen an illuminated parchment hanging out, that Sir Hugo said was the family tree" (1:254-55). Familial lineage is Daniel's apparent concern. But Sir Hugo understands the "lineage" of kinship in terms of institutional affiliation, that is, in terms of careerism. The misunderstanding is suggestive of the key languages informing the novel's discourse. For although Sir Hugo's air of leisurely business is not the invitation to intimacy Daniel seeks, leisure business appears here as a precondition for asking such psychologically resonant questions as "who is my father?" and "who am I?" This air of mock business, of business-likeness, or playing at business, straddles the central opposition of domestic ideology--that between work and leisure--at the same time that it conditions the representation of Daniel's psychological interiority.
So it is that when Daniel asks his euphemistic uncle, "What, do you intend me to be, Sir?" (1:262), the idiom most immediately available, "to be something," marks a peculiarly pregnant moment: for in the metaphorical tea leaves of being something Daniel seeks to trace out his past through some vision of his future, thereby endowing vocational identity with a timeless stability that, with Evangelical undertones, only waits to be revealed. But the virtual epic catalogue of professions that comprises Sir Hugo's answer baffles:
"Whatever your inclination leads you to, my boy. I thought it right to give you the option of the army ... The university has a good wide opening into the forum. There are prizes to be won, and a bit of good fortune often gives the turn to a man's taste ... You might make yourself a barrister--be a writer-take up politics ... I am glad you have done some good reading outside your classics, and have got a grip of French and German. The truth is, unless a man can get the prestige and income of a Don and write donnish books, it's hardly worth while for him to make a Greek and Latin machine of himself ... That's all very fine, but in practical life nobody does give you the cue for pages of Greek ... But talking of Dons, I have seen Dons make a capital figure in society; and occasionally he can shoot you down a cartload of learning in the right place, which will tell in politics ... we want a little disinterested culture to make head against cotton and capital, especially in the house." (1:263)
Accoutered in learned sound-bite equivalents, Sir Hugo's hypothetical intellectual is commercialized in anti-industrial terms: rather than make himself into a "machine," he invests his capital in the appeal of "disinterested culture," and sees its return in the shape of political clout. But Daniel is determined to reject "politics as a profession" (p. 434) and refuses to see himself and psychologically "find himself" in Sir Hugo's list of professions not only because he shrinks from such implicit social climbing, but because what he really wants to hear is who his mother is. In this sense, Daniel's quest for personal identity becomes inseparable from his thirst for an inspiration he can only conceive as a career, but this desire for a career is presented as a surrogate for knowing his mother's identity, for a childhood experience. For Daniel, career not only signifies a desire for what object relations theorists call mothering, but conditions the interiority that conventionally marks the humanist subject. The dialogue climaxes in a moment of excruciating emotional pain for Daniel. With "feelings clogg[ing] his tongue," he remains isolated, his chosen ergologics unable to convey appropriately his emotional life: "A moment was passing by in which a question about his birth was throbbing within him, and yet it seemed more impossible than ever that the question should find vent" (1:296).
Maternalism as Professionalism
The novel's plot is launched by this invocation of the traditional professions (Cannadine, p. 237; Davidoff and Hall, p. 260; Perkin, p. 16; Mintz(9)) during a period in which, according to many historians, the professions themselves were becoming more efficient at transforming services into income-yielding property (Perkin, p. 7) thereby posing a structural challenge to a class-stratified society: by borrowing the doctrine of work from the Evangelical working and lower middle classes and the ideal of a gentleman from the landowning aristocrats and wealthy bourgeoisie, members of the professional classes are represented as engaged in promoting a social ideal that was avowedly national, cultural and anti-capitalist (Perkin, pp. 120-21). According to this narration, professionals, without evincing any group consciousness themselves, strove to cut across class distinctions in the name of national and cultural good. If literature of this period is, as Alan Mintz has argued, engaged in substituting a consideration of man's relation to the world for a consideration of man's relation to woman, moving, that is, from romance to work in a reorientation by which the novelist appropriates for writing "the central experiences of the age: work, vocation, and the passion to improve the world" (pp. 55-56), we need to ask here why Sir Hugo's litany is represented as an intrusion--as inadequate to Daniel's maternal desire--whether we understand that maternal desire as a need to know about his mother or a need to act like a mother. Indeed Daniel Deronda asks us to situate middle-class career professionalism in the context of a gendered and nationalistic conflation of discourses and measure what kind of formal force it thus poses for novel formation.
Historians and critics have characterized nineteenth-century professional society as organized according to three criteria: 1) expertise or specialization, often in an esoteric or abstract form of knowledge; 2) associations and institutions that "gate keep" by conferring and/or recognizing the training and education necessary to such specialization; and 3) an ethic of social good attendant on the performance of professional work (although not necessarily its efficacious performance) by which society is persuaded of a professional's right to resources and rewards. Although American historians tend to see professionalism as an outgrowth of late capitalism whereby services and know-how-and human capital generally--are commodified like commercial products,(10) English historians see Victorian professionalism as a precursor of the twentieth-century welfare state in so far as its emphasis on institution-centric rewards for social work and cultural expertise foreshadow nationally scaled state-sponsored welfare programs (Perkin, pp. 129-30). Indeed historians on both sides of the Atlantic seem to see professionalism as negotiating a nineteenth-century dialectic between capitalist enterprise and labor activism in so far as the organizing principles of professional society are potentially applicable to every job, every member of the nation. Hence the nineteenth-century burgeoning of institutions associated to various kinds of "employment"--whether that employment is a paid service like administering medical advice or an unpaid occupation like distributing bibles to the working classes--is read as the same structural phenomenon: the expansion of professional society. In this sense, professionalism cuts across economic class difference without doing away with an idea of privilege and prestige.
This is not to say, however, that professionalization can be defended as definitively more egalitarian than laissez-faire capitalism. As Mary Poovey's work demonstrates, successful professionalization entailed marginalizing various groups, particularly women whose "natural" identity was constructed in correspondence to the amateur, or the nonprofessional. (11) But if we accept Davidoff and Hall's definition of the professions as entailing "the sale of services, particularly those involving the manipulation of words, visual forms and abstract ideas" (p. 269), then we can see how Perkin's Victorian intelligentsia, many of whom were indeed women, gained increasing social clout, as well as economic and political power, without becoming overt capitalists or pretend men. It is in light of this incipient professional culture that Sharon Marcus explains Charlotte Bronte's access to a novel-writing career as relying on her capacity to abstract and thereby advertise a gender-neutral writerly persona.(12)
Placing women novel-writers in the context of the theoretically endless applicability of Perkin's professionalism--its expansiveness--has broad implications both for the way in which women's novelwriting strove to achieve a semblance of professionalization and for the way in which the representation of domesticity, the female sphere, and women's vocation influence and are influenced by the values current in professionalism. That professionalism is potentially applicable to every activity from doctoring to decorating and from science to sports, but actually applied only to some suggests that the resemblance between professional work and both domestic management in Victorian culture and the realities of female novelwriting in the nineteenth-century literary marketplace is a matter of representation: the imagining of an ethical expertise that was at once learned and innate, Utilitarian and Romantic, professional and not. Thus one reviewer writes that Eliot's "conception" of her "specimen" derived from a power of perception that was "as relentless as that of a naturalist who has a jelly-fish under his microscope, and as tenderly considerate as that of a mother who holds her new-born babe in her arms."(13) In the context of novelwriting, a woman's work is comparable to that of a scientist, the ethical good of maternal love akin to the professional expertise of the trained scientist. It is no wonder then that Eliot's career-long endeavor to define and validate Authorship by insisting that the job of a writer is to produce "moral taste"(14) echoes Sarah Ellis's plea for the "science of good household management" by which all the "highest and best feelings are called into [the] exercise" of moral influence,(15) The question emerges as to whether the promotional strategy that depicts the novelist as a producer of social knowledge can be read as a sign of the professionalization of the domestic woman's claim to an ethical monopoly.
If we allow that the kind of novelistic realism Eliot practiced purportedly provided a means of producing social knowledge and that, as Sharon Marcus has argued, successful authorship required the marketing skills understood as pivotal in the commercialization of an increasingly professionalized economy (p. 207), then the "realignment of social forces precipitated by the specialization of function" that Mintz sees as "most evident in the rise and establishment of the professions" (p. 14) allows us to read Daniel Deronda as a representation of professional ideology. In other words, it allows us to read Daniel Deronda as what Bruce Robbins calls an "allegory of vocation" by which professionalism's romance is exposed in its normative set of polarities: "female experience and male expertise, private ends and public means, politics and professionalism."(16) The advertising techniques of Marcus' literary marketplace, the work ethic central to Mintz's novel of vocation and the allegories that Robbins' institution-based intellectuals reenact demonstrate the way in which the concept of a professional culture provides a means of accounting for the intricacies and apparent ironies imagined in Victorian domestic fiction.
Although by professionalism Robbins really refers to a contemporary idea of the professional critic, particularly the "professor" housed in the modern and generally American university where institutional affiliation is somewhat different than that governing other more conventional professions, his discussion is pertinent here since Sir Hugo finally settles on intellectual life as the profession that will "tell in politics" by virtue of its claims to "disinterested culture"--a puzzling line of reasoning since presumably what has weight in politics, what is politically committed, is presumably not disinterested. Sir Hugo's solecism is of course nothing new in so far as modern secular intellectuals, in their commitment to disinterestedness, have traditionally borne a tortured relationship to political and social practice. What is interesting here, though, is that the intellectual's age-old moral conundrum occurs as Sir Hugo's professional discourse makes Daniel's maternal desire legible. In the shape of Daniel's emotional constitution, the novel's psychological line of development disrupts Sir Hugo's professional expectations by invoking some inchoate type of maternalism, as if to suggest that the novel's reproduction of male professional culture produces a great deal of anxiety about female identity and the appropriateness of emotional and psychological concerns to professionalized art forms.
For the novel, professionalism makes legible what Daniel does not have, whether that missing piece is a career or, what Robbins sees as its opposite, an experience (in this case, a maternal experience). As Eliot goes about the work of conveying social knowledge--that is, the work of fictionalizing Daniel--the question emerges whether the relation between profession and experience is really one of antithesis or of complementarity.
Disinterested Sympathy Problematized
This absence of a professional story alongside the absence of a maternal history initiates a crucial narrative line when the allegedly illegitimate birth that haunts Daniel's silence before a set of Oxbridge professional choices returns in the shape of a particular emotional asset: citing Daniel's unknown birth as the single influence that makes his birthright a question of character, Eliot explains that Daniel's sympathy for others derives from his "sense of entailed disadvantage" (1:262). The property of an entailed estate conventionally associated to English novelistic discourse thus returns here as an intellectual property that still retains its hereditary connotations.
In a sly proleptic wink at the novel's conclusive Zionism, Eliot explains that this possession of dispossession is by no means a sufficient condition for sympathy, for such a sense in an introverted personality would produce only an "Ishmaelite." But in the "rarer sort" like Daniel, "the inexorable sorrow takes the form of fellowship" (1:262). Potential (and importantly not actual) illegitimacy provides Daniel with a great deal of emotional and ethical capital--a sense of fellowship that appears disinterested, similar indeed to what Sarah Ellis cites as the definitive characteristic of an English domestic woman: the "disinterested sympathy of a generous heart" (p. 21). But the free-floating nature of Daniel's sympathy allows his imagined dispossession to endanger the efficacy of his sense of fellowship. Daniel's initial flaw, Eliot intones, is a "plenteous flexible sympathy"--a sympathy that is too indiscriminate, overly disinterested. Many Victorians would associate this sympathy to intellectual life: Daniel's vocational crisis, as one reviewer writes, stems from "the comprehensiveness of intelligence and of sympathy (Whipple, North American Review, p. 49). Not only has Daniel's "sensibility to the half-known facts of his parentage made him an excuse for lingering longer than others in a state of social neutrality" (1:269), but a "too reflective and diffusive sympathy was in danger of paralyzing in him that indignation against wrong and that selectness of fellowship which are the conditions of moral force" (2:132). And so an analysis of Daniel's character yields an ethical critique of Arnoldian disinterestedness, and one of the novel's potential psychological subjects ossifies into a new type of anti-hero: the intellectual citizen of the world.
In a doctrinaire diagnosis of Daniel's ineffectual moral constitution Eliot flashes a vision of the great antidote by collapsing the temporal and spatial dimensions of Daniel's biography, anticipating indeed what Deirdre David sees as the collapse of the novel "from social realism into pseudo-epic" (p. 142):
But how and whence was the needed event to come?--the influence that would justify partiality, and making him what he longed to be yet was unable to make himself--an organic part of social life, instead of roaming in it like a yearning disembodied spirit, stirred with a vague social passion, but without fixed local habitation to render fellowship real? (2:133)
Implicit in Daniel's need to "justify partiality" is a desire to reject an impartiality that has kept him isolated from the biases of a group as well as a desire to distance himself from a disinterestedness whereby his freedom from selfish motive would keep his social passions "vague." He laments that his freedom from selfishness and bias, in a sense his intellectualism, have prevented his Gramscian "organic" social growth.
But let us return to the question of "soar[ing] above preference into impartiality" (1:26) and how that is connected to a "love of tender kinship for" a spot of native land. When Eliot tells us that preference is the road to impartiality, we cannot help but ask why she would then use Daniel's diffusive sympathy to blur the distinction between disinterestedness and impartiality. Defined here as the state of being "stimulated by abstract nouns," impartiality is the intellectual state of the citizen of the world. It is the Saidian nation of the homeless intellectual and the Robbinsian university of the professional critic as much as it is Arnoldian disinterestedness. In this sense, home, a site for acquaintanceship and affection, becomes the nest of impartiality, but it is a strange impartiality indeed, no less so than in the context of Daniel's plenteous sympathy. In other words, the passage begs the question how an impartiality that involves being stimulated by abstract nouns pertains to Daniel's plenteous sympathy, his social neutrality, and his moral paralysis. Is the love of kinship that culminates in impartiality nothing more than an indiscriminate sympathy born of dispossession? Is the state of being stimulated by abstract nouns nothing more than entailed disadvantage? If Catherine Gallagher is right that the professional critic is illegible as a political signifier,(17) then Daniel's dilemma, and perhaps even Said's, can be seen as falsely resolved in a peculiar form of twentieth-century nationalism, one that emerges in the novel as a remedy to the necessary absence of political commitment, the disdain of interestedness, characterizing professional life. Certainly Eliotian professions of worldliness risk falling prey to a nationalism that despite its ideal merging of local commitment and communal universalism(18) contradicts the key terms of both intellectualism and professionalism: disinterestedness.
But I have neglected the figure that heralds Eliot's nation-state of impartiality: the "homestead" and "the little lot of stars" belonging to it. A homestead implies a communal enterprise organized around some kind of production. If a homestead is literally associated to agricultural production, here as a metaphor it produces the impartiality necessary to the citizen of the world; it manufactures intellectualism. This image of the home as a workshop for intellectual properties crystallizes in the gendered shape of the Meyrick household whose "vision" beckons Daniel (1:291) to seek it as a heaven for Mirah, the Jewish "poor wanderer" (1:299). Not unlike the Pensionnat de Demoiselles of Villette (which also serves as safe harbor for a tempest-tossed woman), the Meyrick home is an all female cloister so embedded (between a river and a garden) that, despite its location in the middle of a city, it is sealed off from urban noise and blight. Half workplace, half reading room, it recalls the fairytale subplot of Middlemarch in which Mary Garth, having become mistress of the Stone Court where once she served as maid, produces with her co-author husband a handbook on farming as well as a storybook version of Plutarch. Indeed, looking at the Meyrick home is like looking at a pastiche of advertisements for reading, the details all collated to focus attention on an ethics of literary consumption: not only is its sequestered front parlor quiet enough for Mrs. Meyrick to read aloud to her children with the window open, but its hospitality is predicated on Daniel's conviction that the "motherly figure of quakerish neatness" and her three daughters "hardly knew of any evil closer to them than what lay in history books and dramas, and would at once associate a lovely Jewess with Rebecca in `Ivanhoe'" (1:291). Eliot is hardly subtle in her suggestion that the Meyrick women come to know how to do the right thing due to their readerly imaginations. That the moral lesson in this case derives from Scott's novel about the forging of an English national consciousness suggests that to take in a Jew is to participate in a particularly nationalistic English literary tradition. Indeed, Michael Ragussis has convincingly situated Daniel Deronda as a whole in a revisionist tradition of the novel whereby the representation of Jewish conversion furnishes a vocabulary for debating the historical meaning of Englishness.
The Meyrick home reproduces the business of busyness that can said to be characteristic of a domestic vignette. Rooted in the durative of historical present tense, the first description of the home shows it as a workplace. Drawing, sewing, reading--the manual mixes with the intellectual and the scene's chiaroscuro lighting casts a penumbra around the alliance: "The candles were on a table apart for Kate, who was drawing illustrations for a publisher; the lamp was not only for the reader but for Amy and Mab, who were embroidering satin cushions for `the great world'" (1:293). Although their work may be amateur in that the only training they received would have been at their mother's hand, it is clear that they are not only paid for their productions, but the household, including the sole and absent male, is economically dependent on such payment, compensation that is neither the laborer's wage nor the professional's fee, but typical of an artisanal economy. In this sense, the scene replicates an ongoing irony about novelistic domesticity; it highlights, indeed sometimes glamorizes, a type of manual work that never takes the form of alienated labor.
But handicrafts are not the scene's only products. For featured at the scene's center is Mirah in the middle of entertaining her coworkers by reading to them while sitting on a camp stool, thereby serving as model "for a title-page vignette, symbolizing a fair public absorbed in the successive volumes of the Family Tea-table" (2:311). Sitting, reading, entertaining, Mirah, by modeling for a publisher's advertisement, portrays domestic work as implicated in the marketing of a popular magazine. In a kind of "Las Meninas" self-disclosure, Eliot's domestic scene here illustrates its own manufacture as ideological commerce: it overtly claims an ironic commercial appeal as an organic extension of its domesticity. In other words, part of the scene's very appeal derives from its ironic disclosure of its own artifice, a disclosure that invokes the same kind of campiness characteristic of Dickensian domesticity. In this, it resembles a nineteenth-century version of what Marc Miller identifies in television advertisements of today as a preemptive irony that co-opts all skeptical postures;(19) the element of self-mockery implicit in either twentieth-century television or in this domestic scene's self-reference prevents perceiving it as ideological fare or propaganda.(20)
Certainly these diminutive women nested in their tiny rooms, who, "if they had been wax-work, might have been packed easily in a fashionable lady's traveling trunk" (1:296), recall the playland miniature moat with bridge and garden estate of the campy Castle Dickens gives Wemmick. But the telling sign that this home differs from any Dickens would have built is the conspicuous presence of something entirely new: what is called "culture."
it is pleasant to know that many such grim-walled slices of space in our foggy London have been, and still are the homes of a culture the more spotlessly free from vulgarity, because poverty has rendered everything like display an impersonal question, and all grand shows of the world simply a spectacle which rouses no petty rivalry or vain effort after possession. (1:293-94)
If we take Eliot at her word, it would seem that in domestic culture poverty curbs investing material objects with psychoanalytic properties. The tables and chairs of the parlour may anthropomorphically materialize like "old friends preferred to new" (1:294), but, unlike their counterparts at La Terrasse, they do not reflect anyone's personality, psychological history, preference or taste. Display for this culture can never be personal; it is "free" from efforts after possession, free from the desire to own. The implication of Eliot's idyll is extravagant, if not patronizingly reactionary: poverty precludes egoism?
Indeed the ethos is avowedly anti-materialist and intellectually elitist in so far as it appears to champion an idea of cultural appreciation very much in keeping with the Oxbridge-centered attack on property that Perkin describes as central in a professionalism from above (pp. 123-41)(21), and that Freedman describes as characteristic of the anti-establishment ambivalence of intellectual aesthetes towards capitalist commodification.(22) The diminutive parole constraining the home and its inhabitants appears as nothing more than a showcase for cultural breadth, a version of the perspectival leitmotif played incessantly throughout the novel as a whole: "But in these two little parlours with no furniture that a broker would have cared to cheapen except the prints and piano, there was space and apparatus for a wide-glancing, nicely select life, open to the highest things in music, painting, and poetry" (1:294). It is no wonder that they are willing to house Mirah, a figure whom the novel similarly metaphorizes as an objet d'art: "image of unhappy girlhood" (1:280); a version of other "girl tragedies" (1:281); "an impersonation of the misery" (1:279). Mirah fits in very well with the only other objects in the house that actually do have literal market value: the prints and the piano. In other words, Eliot connects nonpersonal sociability--that lack of interest in the personal--that makes the Meyrick household such an authentic home to a cultural appreciation that is by no means independent of economic concerns. We find ourselves in another border-territory where just enough money affords a piano without the too much money associated to an "effort after possession." that shameful desire to own. In this sense, Eliot's social critique acknowledges the financial quiddities that her cultural program elides.
This is borne out in the William-Morris-esque way in which the Meyrick homecraftsmanship links cultural appreciation to a collectivist spirit. As a kind of ad agency for that combination of the intellectual and the aesthetic known as culture, Eliot's home defines the very bond joining the mother to her daughters as a rather strange amalgam of biological and professional virtues: "family love; admiration for the finest work, the best action; and habitual industry" (1:295), That family love coincides with habitual industry is typical of domestic discourse from Sarah Ellis onward. That the paired superlative sandwiched between them associates an aesthetic appreciation (the finest work) with an ethical admiration (the best action) suggests that the home produces both kinds of specialists: it links art and morality under the aegis of domestic connoisseurship.
The significance of connoisseurship to the novel's domesticity surfaces in the fact that it is through Mirah, the wandering homeless amateur professional, that the Meyrick household is registered as the happy home: structurally, it is through a metonymic line of development beginning with her that the narrative arrives at the Meyricks' when Daniel brings her there, and it is there, amid all the accouterments of English taste, that she is recognized by Herr Klesmer as a professional. In the first of the novel's various recognition scenes, Mirah's professionalism serves as her Odysseus scar. In this sense, the novel's initial movement from the Gwendolyn plot line to the Mirah one, and from an English woman without a home to a homeless woman without a surrogate one, takes place in a professional idiom, for the recognition that Klesmer accords Mirah is precisely that which he withholds from Gwendolyn. Mirah's fitness for the role of heroine in the novel is expressed as her fitness for the drawing-room career in which Klesmer launches her.
Indeed Klesmer represents professional authority. He stresses the importance of training by telling Gwendolyn that loving art is not enough: "`genius at first is little more than a great capacity to receive discipline'" (1:385). He celebrates a Protestant sense of election in vocations requiring inefficacious "self-denial"--self denial from which no issue can ever be expected (1:385): "`you wish to try a life of arduous, unceasing work, and uncertain praise ... you could do nothing better--neither man nor woman could do anything better'" (1:382). He even employs professional jargon when explaining to Mirah what she would need to do to hone her skills: he spoke "`in noises which sounded like words bitten in two and swallowed before they were half out'" (2:316). And he emphasizes the disinterestedness of service in a professional community:
I will ask leave to shake hands with you on the strength of our free masonry, where we are all vowed to the service of Art, and to serve her by helping every fellow-servant ... Where there is duty of service there must be the duty of accepting it. The question is not one of personal obligation. (1:391)
Despite these signs, Klesmer encodes a professional ethos that is peculiarly domesticated in being peculiarly gender-blind for, as I have argued elsewhere, homecraft as imagined in domestic novels is theoretically open to all. Invoking "free masonry" as his professional model, Klesmer seems to refer to those fourteenth-century itinerant stone-workers who signaled their expertise by means of a secret system of signs and passwords. By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, free masonry commanded a host of other associations as the free masons themselves had regrouped in 1717 and revised the society's objective from that of serving as a kind of qualifying association to that of "mutual help and the promotion of brotherly feeling" (OED). In other words, eighteenth-century ethical culture substitutes for medieval craftsmanship as the society's organizing principle. The irony emerges in the nineteenth century when, despite their origins in guild-based skilled labor, the free masons become "one of the most influential and wide-ranging of the masculine associations" characteristic of nineteenth-century English middle-class life (Davidoff and Hall, p. 425). In this sense, the free masons of the nineteenth century exemplify a segment of middle-class culture where para-professional structures serve to organize social life. And this evolution seems to have included an ambivalent assertion of sexual difference as well: rallying around a set of collectivist values many of which derived from eighteenth-century Dissent-solidarity, charity, trust, tolerance (p. 426)--the free masons championed as masculine the same virtues that Sarah Ellis claimed for domestic women. That female domesticity and male free masonry may be thought of as two versions of the same set of principles emerges in the free masons' commitment to marriage and to family life:
Free masonry helped to give location to young men who could not yet marry and set up on their own and, "as a single sex organization with a strong moral code, it served as a protection against disastrous liaison and premature marriage." Indeed it provided a hearth for those who did not have a home. (p. 426)
By invoking free masonry in addressing a woman, Klesmer conjures a fantasy that the artistic professions he represents could bridge what did in fact, if not in theory, separate the home from the mason's lodge: gender.
This romance between domesticity and artistic professionalism crystallizes when Klesmer blows into the Meyrick doll house. Despite Eliot's praise of the home's poverty, the Meyricks are at first embarrassed and self-conscious when the blustery composer's theatrical air makes the house look like a ridiculous toy (2:312). The novel reassures us, however, that Klesmer appreciates the home because he is a Bohemian: "He remembered a home no larger than this on the outskirts of Bohemia; and in the figurative Bohemia too he had had a large acquaintance with the variety and romance which belong to small incomes" (2:312-13). The double sense of Klesmer's bohemianism is not fortuitous: the information that his childhood home is Bohemia and that his calling as an international musician entails his living like a bohemian, "a gypsy of society, especially an artist, literary man or actor" (OED), has the effect of redeeming the Meyrick house from its self-consciousness and certifying it as a home: for it is due to his bohemianism, in both senses, that Klesmer puts his imprimatur on the Meyrick rooms. In this sense, the English home's identity becomes linked to an ironic representation of national origins that derives from Klesmer's career as a professional artist. Recalling that one of the necessary conditions of professionalism is certification, we can discern here a mock certification scene, cleverly staged among performers of the novel's domesticity; at the same time that Klesmer recognizes Mirah's vocal expertise, the combination of her talent and her training, he recognizes the house as a home. The parodic nature of the scene's professionalism seems to make fun of professional values at the same time as it ironically accords just such value to the "amateur" spheres it purportedly excludes.
Artists and Nations
Although "Bohemia" refers to a geographical place, it also denotes the rootlessness of artistic life. This cleverly contrived way of representing Klesmer's identity, and the authority that derives from it, suggests that Eliot's concern with Klesmer's romantic home on the outskirts of a figurative Bohemia (2:313) is a concern that links domesticity and professionalism to nationalism. Nationalism, in the sense of a willingness to mobilize politically on the basis of national identification, is considered by writers like Eric Hobsbawm and Ernest Gellner in association to nineteenth-century political and ideological shifts.(23) Whereas they have focused on political mobilization as the definitive quality of nationalism, Benedict Anderson has considered the origins of that national identification itself, which he locates in the vacuum created by the disintegration of a unified sense of religious institutional life. Interestingly, both schools of thought emphasize the role of the intelligentsia. For Anderson, print culture--the newspaper and the novel specifically--provide the instruments for national imaginings. For Hobsbawm, linguistic criteria are despositive in the identification of a nation defined by its ethnic composition rather than by its economic and political viability. The linguistic rallying point of modern nationalism, Hobsbawm points out, originates with "people who wrote and read, not people who spoke" (p. 147). According to this argument, the nineteenth-century ethnic-linguistic claim for political autonomy generally involved languages (Gaelic, Macedonian, Yiddish) that were really no more than "local and regional dialects" (p. 147). Hebrew, the focus of nineteenth-century Zionism and of central concern to the Jewish plot of Daniel Deronda, provides an extreme example of this "localness" in having been limited exclusively to liturgy and ritual for centuries (p. 146). As nationalism theoretically evolves, these languages demand compilation, standardization, modernization (p. 147) while their associated cultures (folklore, mores, customs) require written historicization and codification. In other words, Hobsbawm and Anderson insinuate that nationalism was not only a job and a job opportunity for specialists and experts, it contributed significantly to the professionalization of social knowledge, an enterprise in which Eliot herself was clearly invested.
In his discussion of late nineteenth-century nationalism, Hobsbawm differentiates between a nationalism that rested on a territorial program modeled after the "territorial state of the French Revolution" and an alternative "nonterritorial nationalism" developed among Europe's historically migratory peoples (especially in the Habsburg Empire and among Jews) according to which nationality is inherent in a person no matter where she lives (pp. 147-48). He identifies nonterritorial nationalism by outlining how a Diaspora people's sense of a home as "the locus of a real community of human beings with real social relations with each other" turns into the "imaginary community" of the nation state (p. 148).
For Hobsbawm, the degeneration of the "real" community into an abstracted one is an unfortunate prelude to territorial aggression. For Eliot it poses a formal problematic. In detaching the home from any geographic specificity and pinning it to a vocational community of professional artists, Klesmer's bohemianism suggests that in the professionalization of art and literature the idea that a home can be a profession turns into the idea that a profession can be a home. The distinction is vocational domesticity taken to its logical extreme, renunciation turned in on itself. What is lost, however, when a profession becomes a home is a sense of generational continuity, a sense that can presumably be recovered by conjuring the historically rooted imagined community of the nation. So in its emphasis on exile-on homelessness-the novel's professionalism (writ as bohemianism) relegates domesticity to a strictly metaphorical level; the home is processed into a more abstract and more potentially nationalistic idea of community: the homeland.
It follows then that within this professional grammar, Mirah must figure as the heroine, not only by virtue of her amateur professionalism, but by virtue of her nonterritorial nationalism--that is, her Judaism. But in this sense, the nonterritorial nationalism of the novel engenders a proto-Zionism that posits territorial acquisition at the same time as it champions an international spirit of Diaspora. The purpose of Mordecai's visionary mission to the East is not to end the Diaspora but to restore the soul of the Jewish people living in it: by replacing their dried up superstitions and superannuated rituals with a sense of "common action" (2:378), Mordecai's imagined "national hearth" (2:393) would make Jews better citizens of the world. "The life of a people grows," he preaches, "it absorbs the thought of other nations into its own forms, and gives back the thought as new wealth to the world" (2:378). Rather than increase the world's wealth materially, Diaspora Jews would increase the world's wealth spiritually if only they could be reinspired by a territorial center--a territorial center that, as Mordecai makes clear, would resemble England. So again, Eliot's reach for universality resolves itself into loving a spot of native land. By making Jewish nationalism a replication of English nationalism, the novel--in a phrase Eliot uses to describe Lydgate's foolhardy romance with Rosamond--gets tangled in its own metaphors.
In the context of Daniel Deronda, the double sense of bohemianism describes how an artist makes a profession a home only to compensate for the resulting loss of generational continuity by imagining a national identity. The novel turns toward nationalism when it becomes clear that professional art, however glamorized by Klesmer, can never be a viable alternative for any of the main characters. Professional art cannot satisfy the demands of domestic vocational longing. In so far as it is Klesmer the professional artist who chooses Mirah and her potential nationalism as the conduit whereby a meaningful life may be envisioned, it is professional art that, in its failure to sustain that meaningful life, summons nationalism. In other words, whereas professional art cannot sustain the novel's domestic plot of vocation, the imagined nation can. The home in Bohemia that allows Klesmer to recognize the Meyrick household's domesticity will ultimately depart from a set of artistic connotations in order to settle in a real place, on a real piece of land. Thus the nationalism of Mirah and the Jewish plot wins out over the marketplace popularity of Gwendolyn and the English plot.(24)
How the intellectual qualities important to a bohemian artist can be linked to a nation's land emerges elsewhere in Eliot's writing in her representation of the German peasant's relationship to history. In "A Natural History of German Life," she explains how it is that the German peasant will not change his grandfather's home with any improvements, but will dismantle a mediaeval church so as to use its stones for his backyard fence:
Riehl well observes that the feudal system, which made the peasant the bondman of his lord, was an immense benefit in a country the greater part of which had still to be colonized, rescued the peasant from vagabondage, and laid the foundation of persistency and endurance in future generations. If a free German peasantry belongs only to modern times, it is to his ancestor who was a serf, and even, in earliest times, a slave, that the peasant owes the foundation of his independence--namely, his capability of a settled existence,--nay, his unreasoning persistency, which has its important function in the development of the race.(25)
In her praise of the German peasant's independence from the past, Eliot makes similar moves to those that complicate her explanation of the citizen of the world's impartiality in the homestead passage above: independence is defined as a settled existence tied to territory in the same way that impartiality can be traced to a prejudice for milk. In order for Eliot to located the source of independence in a history of bondage and the source of impartiality in prejudice, she needs to redefine independence itself as a quality of mind, as an intellectual property. Both analogies reveal Eliot's preoccupation with conceptualizing an intellectual independence that can be defended as rooted in the life of generations, in a historical order of things that would ironically curtail that very independence. Bohemianism seen as a professional home thus encodes an impossible dream: the legitimization of independent intellectual work in the communal terms of a historical nation. In this mythology of Klesmer's own home in Bohemia, the professionalization of Daniel Deronda's domesticity turns into an intellectual romance with nationalism.
The alliance between artistic professionalism and nationalism asserts itself as a formal force in the novel during a drawingroom music party at the Arrowpoints' estate. At first blush, the scene suggests that a comedy of manners had revisited England: in an urbane and aristocratic salon an ironic exchange of witticisms matches two men against each other in competition for the presiding lady's favor. The conventional banter, however, does not rely on the usual epigrammatic subtext of essentialist sexual differences. For Eliot's vintage rendition here substitutes a remarkably compatible nationalist type casting. The scene is in fact, like much of this immigrant-populated London-centric novel, perversely concerned with national difference and much of the scene's humor pivots on the effectiveness of its racist caricatures. The Jew Klesmer speaks in "odious German staccato endings" like an Irishman's resuming his brogue when upset (1:66) and the English MP Bult, a model "party man" (1:361), calls a piece of coloratura offensive and Polish. The nineteenth-century conflation of race and nation informs the stereotypes Eliot uses to satirize the English themselves, with their uninspired affects, point-device costuming, and ruddy complexions. In fact, Eliot's concern with national or cultural traits is most pronounced in her diagnosis of England: the problem with English culture, she repeatedly makes clear, is its constitutional resistance to idealism, its unanchored sympathies: and here disinterestedness itself is portrayed as a kind of curse visited on the English nation.
From his position as an artistic professional, Klesmer occupies center stage at the Arrowpoints' salon. And from his position as a bohemian, he attacks the "lack of idealism in English politics, which left all mutuality between distant races to be determined simply by the need of a market" (1:362). Klesmer sees the English mentality as molested by the same social neutrality that hounds Daniel: in suggesting that both England and Daniel make choices, but never with that "selectness of fellowship which are the conditions of moral force" (2:132), the novel likens the commercialism that informs England's international neutrality to the diffusive sympathy that informs Daniel's moral paralysis. In this light, Klesmer's critique of impartiality suggests that it is not merely a temporary political condition, but a moral deficiency--both in English culture and the individual lives that constitute it.
Dodging the charge, Mr. Bult the politician and expectant peer commends Klesmer for his command of the English language and his rhetorical sophistication: with "the general solidity and suffusive pinkness of a healthy Briton on the central table-land of life" (1:361), Bult confesses his astonishment at Klesmer's "ability to put a point in a way that would have told at a constituents' dinner" and speculates that Klesmer must be a refugee, "a Pole, or a Czech, or something of that fermenting sort, in a state of political refugeeism which had obliged him to make a profession of his music" (1:362). Bult seems to find Klesmer's bohemianism explicable only as a symptom of his exile: it is inconceivable to Bult that a man would willfully either leave his country or make an amateur pursuit like music his career. Upon asking whether Klesmer is a "Panslavist," however, the German musician retorts, while standing before a piano, that his name is Elijah, the "Wandering Jew," at which point he punctuates his pronta riposta with a crashing glissando that dramatically wins him the match.
Bult's evasion of the charge that the English lack political idealism can be seen as the novel's response to it: in emphasizing Klesmer's command of English, the novel immediately directs our attention to the presence and idea of this flamboyant professional musician who, a cosmopolitan no less at home in his professional calling as a native would be in his homeland, erupts out of the scene like a deus-ex-machina antidote to England's lack of political idealism. That Klesmer speaks English like a statesman and impresses audiences by virtue of his professional flair forces nationalism and professionalism into a contrapuntal relationship whereby the English can cure their lack of political idealism by conceptualizing England as a nation of professionals--expert managers who provide the world with crucial cultural services. But Klesmer's condemnation of the English for their willingness to leave "all mutuality between the races"--that is, all reciprocal exchange, all communication and intercommunication among peoples--to "the market" suggests some ambiguity as to whether the market is an emblem of self-interestedness or an emblem of disinterestedness. The diagnosis of English national identity reenacts the doubts that molest the professional who gains materially from her presumably disinterested vocation.
The analogy between the professional's dilemma and the Englishman's alongside the racist typecasting that Eliot applies to the English as much as to the Jews suggests that nonterritorial nationalism might pertain not only to the Diaspora peoples Hobsbawm mentions, but to a Britain in which Englishness was not always a question of geography. Indeed the English mentality that leaves all mutuality between the races to the market is for Eliot no different from the Jewish mercantilism she decries in "The Modern Hep, Hep, Hep."(26) There Eliot criticizes the Jewish Diaspora for producing in the Jewish character a "cosmopolitan indifference" (p. 278) that takes the form of an intellectual faculty for abstracting "all national interest" into what Catherine Gallagher describes as an inhumane calculus of lendings and borrowings.(27) Invoking an alchemy of difference and sameness in her opening remark--"To discern likeness amidst diversity, it is well known does not require so fine a mental edge as the discerning of diversity amidst general sameness" (Impressions, p. 259)--Eliot asks how an Englishman is to judge among the many calls for national self-determination: recounting the parable of the husband who, when told by a physician that his wife cannot eat salad, asks if she might eat lettuce or radishes, Eliot concludes that the "physician had too rashly believed in the comprehensiveness of the word `salad,' just as we, if not enlightened by experience, might believe in the all-embracing breadth of `sympathy with the injured and oppressed'" (p. 287). While supposedly arguing in favor of the specificity of difference, Eliot likens sympathy to a salad in an instance of professional artistry whereby metaphor-making exonerates finding likeness amidst diversity just as her polemics condemn it.
What allows for discriminating among the ingredients of a salad as well as among peoples with whom to sympathize is "experience." In the case of nations, Eliot refers Englishmen to their own sense of national consciousness, which derives from a history of generations. In this sense of historical national consciousness, the English would find sympathy for the Jews: "There is more likeness than contrast between the way we English got our island and the way the Israelites got Canaan" (p. 207). In the same way that the consciousness of "having a native country, the birthplace of common memories and habits of mind, existing like a prenatal hearth quitted but beloved," saves "migratory Englishmen from the worst consequences of their voluntary dispersion," so would a "renovated national dignity for the Jews" inhibit the "cosmopolitan indifference" that international assimilation threatens (p. 278). So when Eliot says that in this modern context the "idea of Nationalities" has value (p. 285). It is not clear whether she means to protect the English at home or abroad: it is not simply Zionism at issue when she endorses Mordecai's vision of the Jews as "`a nationality whose members may still stretch to the ends of the earth, even as the sons of England and Germany, whom enterprise carries afar, but who still have a national hearth'" (Daniel Deronda, p. 596). The antidote for salad-like sympathy amounts to a national hearth built on a single idea: separateness with communication. But this recipe for a Jewish national hearth derives directly from Eliot's explanation of English nationalism: not only does this likening of cosmopolitanism to mercantilism imply that the international intellectual's professed disinterestedness is nothing more than professional self-interest, it connects the Diaspora Jews living in England to the Englishmen living in "voluntary dispersion."
Feminism and Professionalism
According to this vision, both the Jews and the English are each separated from their respective homelands but connected to each other by virtue of their national imaginings. This model of nationalism, which posits a separate-but-connected doctrine, gives Daniel's story of development a direction in a particularly gendered way. Katherine Bailey Linehan has pointed out, in following Rosemarie Bodeheimer's notion of the "female paternalist," that Daniel Deronda cultivates a "romance of the male maternalist" (pp. 342-43) according to which the border delineating the sexual separate spheres is invoked as necessary to the nation's proper management but transgressed by male figures who have learned to perform female "nurturing" work.(28) This reading, understood in the context of Eliot's separate-but-connected model of nationhood, suggests that the novel's psychoanalytic discourse bears less a resemblance to Freudian theory than to that of object relations: for the self-identity ostensibly achieved in Daniel's embrace of a national separateness with communication, an embrace that relies on the discovery of his mother's identity, prefigures the model of selfhood that twentieth-century object relations theorists use particularly for female self-differentiation. As Nancy Chodorow articulates it, object relations theory sees individuation as an "oscillation between connection and separation."(29) Rather than pivoting on a disruption of a child's narcissistic relationship to reality through its recognition of the mother's otherness, child development entails a child's being cognitively able to recognize the mother's subjectivity alongside her otherness. The process by which a child successfully differentiates a sense of selfhood requires developing what is called a "relational" self: a sense of separateness that relies on "a particular way of being connected to others" (p. 107). According to Chodorow, in a society that privileges independence while disparaging community, neither the absolute individual autonomy prescribed for male children nor the absolute merging with others experienced by female children produces well-adjusted adults.
Although the operative binary of Chodorow's relational individuality, separateness and communication, has been criticized for its race and class specificity, the narrowness of its applicability, and its participation in the "connection thesis" (the idea that women are "connected"--whether biologically or sociologically--that is, kinder and gentler, more compassionate, etc.), its emphasis on the nurturing of a community has held a historically important place in the evolution of feminism in the broad sense. Whether female morality is seen as collectively bound due to childrearing practices, as some contemporary feminists argue, or due to divine mandate, as nineteenth-century Evangelists believed, or to a scientific division of labor that ensured mankind's progress, as many secular Victorian feminists maintained, the communal ethos that is claimed by many feminists as female and as morally superior to the claims of individualism is part of a by now conventional Anglo-American middle-class conceptualization of gender. In this light, it is possible to see how the Victorian separate-sphere doctrine itself, an oppressive condition from many standpoints, could have been used in good will if not always to good effect as an instrument for improving the condition of middle-class women, particularly when social reform and "kinder" public policy programs came into vogue (as they do both in the 1960s and 70s as well as in the later half of the nineteenth century). Moreover the moral superiority encoded in the separate sphere doctrine explains how it came to be the artistic professions that first opened to middle-class women as both groups (professionals as well as women) aspired for different reasons to mystify their class origins, one in the name of a higher god, Art, the other in the name of the entire sex, Womankind.
This brings us back to some of the definitive binaries subtending professional ideology, binaries that become problematic when "amateurs" like women, and like writers, claim or achieve professional status. The struggle Robbins observes in institutional feminism of today can be likened then to the drama played out in Daniel Deronda. The "feminist assault on the experts" in avenging a professionalization that violated the traditions of women's care (quoted in Robbins, pp. 49-50) is preface to the professionalization of particular politics much in the same way that Daniel's rejection of politics as a profession marks his embrace of a maternal legacy whose ethnic particularity ultimately demands an exceedingly partisan political program. Daniel's Palestinian destiny raises the question as to whether the professionalization of amateur occupations--female work, intellectual work, cultural work--necessarily summons an age in which the personal can be nothing other than political.
The implications of politicizing the professional domestic plot are dramatized by Eliot's use of the legend of the Wandering Jew in her representation of Klesmer, the figure who connects domesticity and artistic professionalism to nationalism in the first place. Klesmer, who finds his home in his passionate identification with the profession to which he has connected himself and the international community with which his Art authorizes him to communicate, declares that he is a Wandering Jew in response to the English politician's narrow conception of cosmopolitan culture. But Klesmer's heralding himself as the Wandering Jew carries some puzzling associations and calls our attention to how the figure and its various avatars (Althusarus, The Flying Dutchman, Enoch Arden, Cain, Elijah, Don Juan) haunt so many nineteenth-century texts. "The Wandering Jew," which had acquired a legendary status by the beginning of the nineteenth century,(30) especially among folklorists and antiquarians,(31) and had proliferated in art-form versions at around the same time, tells the story of a Jew who refuses to allow Jesus to rest while carrying his cross to Calvary and heckles him to walk faster. The Jew is punished by being forced to wander the world until Christ's Second Coming. Having repented, however, he eventually comes to call the world to reform, reminding them through his words and his appearance of the inevitability of Judgment Day. He stands then both cursed and blessed, a personification of exile as well as a sign of that ultimate universal homecoming, the future Kingdom Come.
What does Klesmer's applauding himself as the Wandering Jew mean in the context of Eliot's admonishment of both the Jews and the English for their diffusive sympathies (the Jews for their mercurial interests, the English for their imperial ones)? Although as a homeless Jew he would be susceptible to the charge of alienism (Eliot's term for international disinterestedness), as a professional musician, Klesmer is interested. Like the Wandering Jew himself, he has an international calling that can substitute for nationality. Professional election, in a sense, redeems him. Though Klesmer does not have the homestead whose absence also marks Daniel and Gwendolyn, his profession (his bohemianism) is home enough to make his likeness to the Wandering Jew the ironic blessing that rhetorically wins for him a position of authority. Daniel, however, is a wandering Jew of a different sort. The comparison between Klesmer and Daniel suggests that the alternative homes--an artistic career or a national territory--present a pairing: artistic professionalism and nationalism seem to serve the same domestic literary purpose in providing alternative vocational plotlines.
The extent to which the archetypal wanderer is given a professional purpose inflected by an English nationalist specificity surfaces in one of Eliot's favorite versions of the Wandering Jew theme, Wagner's 1843 The Flying Dutchman, one of the few of Wagner's operas she admired,(32) and one of the cultural phantoms haunting Daniel Deronda. Indeed in Klesmer's representing a composite of Mendelson, Liszt (a friend of Lewes), and Wagner (an acquaintance), his remark in the scene recalls Heinrich Heine's treatment of the "Flying Dutchman, the Wandering Jew of the Ocean" (Heine, 1:132).(33) Having been especially moved by the element of high-relief self-sacrifice central in Heine's version, which appeared several years before he wrote his own, Wagner apparently based his Flying Dutchman on the theatrical production of the same title described in the seventh chapter of Heine's "Memoirs of Herr Von Schnabelwopski." The Flying Dutchman tells the story of how a sailor swears to round the Cape of Good Hope even if it takes him until Judgment Day; his audacity is punished when the devil condemns him to everlasting wander. Heine and Wagner's plot innovation is simply the caveat that the Wandering Jew of the Ocean can be redeemed by a woman who pledges her love to him. Perversely, both versions demand that the woman demonstrate her devotion in a suicide made all the more gruesome by her expressed desire to perform the most literal of self-sacrificial acts.
In Wagner's opera, we see a professional sailor seeking personal spiritual salvation through a love that is repeatedly discussed in terms of self-sacrifice and "heimatland." The libretto's choice of "heimat" (the community of a collective imagination) in lieu of the colloquial "heim" (or "daheim" as in a place of origin) appears especially relevant when the Second Act opens onto a domestic household composed, like so many nineteenth-century English novel households, of a group of female workers, the hum of their spinning wheels orchestrated to cast a phonemic penumbra around the space that, wider and more inclusive than any possible stage "ship," promises to end the cycle of the solitary professional man's wanderings. Moved by the story she has heard and retells so often, Senta expresses--not love--but such a desire to sacrifice for the Dutchman (what she calls a "longing for the sky")(34) that the home, a place of ongoing, end-less activity, shows itself as a force that can make the wanderer's plot linear and simultaneously transcendent. Structurally, then, the home appears as a reclaiming agent, however veiled its thematic attributes.
Sailors and seamstresses: the first theme sung by a crew of male sailors finds its development in a staff of female spinners. Indeed the opera reaches its crescendo when both groups sing their respective themes together in complementary juxtaposition in the Third Act. The sailors' rolling waves seem virtually overcome by the sewers' spinning wheels. An ageless--as old as the "young Ulysses" to whom Eliot compares Klesmer--archetypal oscillation between the home and the sea awakens a nostos narrative line that relies exclusively on Senta's desire to sacrifice herself. But what such a sacrifice would entail is elided: the Dutchman is stunned by her willingness to commit to such a life of wandering even though (as she herself knows from the start) her willingness to commit would presumably end that wandering. The specifics of what is sacrificed and the logic of its renunciation plot seem less important than the idea of Senta's final monstrous self-emulsion.
The almost hysterical yearning for transcendence that the recitative dialogue between Senta and the Dutchman conveys is, however, repeatedly interrupted by a prosaic melody sung by Senta's seafaring father, Daland. Indeed the merchant sailor can hardly contain his yippy-ai-yah anticipation of getting the Dutchman's treasure, which the forlorn captain promises him in exchange for his daughter's hand. That their deal, which (like so much of operatic plot detail) looks gratuitous at first, should precede the Dutchman and Senta's first meeting makes it important in several ways. It suggests that Senta's fantasy of self-sacrifice concurs with her father's fantasy of getting some pirate booty and thereby promotes Senta's heroic self-sacrifice by presenting her as her father's chattel. At the same time, it suggests the sense in which domestic work is implicated in making a living from the sea. The juxtaposed musical collage of the sailors returning tired and hungry alongside the seamstresses sewing and cleaning and cooking in preparation for the homecoming equates the two spheres as national workplaces. But Daland's money-grubbing interludes put a primal home-sea link into a nineteenth-century context: as members of an emerging respectable profession, sailors were often wealthy enough to make respectable middle-class husbands. And in this light, the Flying Dutchman is an idealized professional: his extraordinary wealth only a coincidental byproduct of his relentless maritime wandering. No longer a journey or a voyage, the wandering presents itself as a kind of vocation: predestined to continuously spread Christ's word, the Wandering Jew is saved and his itinerant work portrayed, much like that of the traveling surgeon, estate surveyor, or Imperial civil servant, as a condition of his election.
The Wandering Jew's maritime twin, though a Hollander, would carry British associations in the nineteenth century. Not only was Heine's version and Wagner's originally set in Scotland, but Wagner's diary reveals that archetypal male oceanic exile has a peculiar relevance to nineteenth-century English domestic concerns. While he was thinking about the Wandering Jew as a possible subject, Wagner and his wife are caught in a storm at sea on their way to London. After being briefly sheltered in Sandwike, the Norwegian fjord where he will eventually set The Flying Dutchman, he and his wife finally reach London by means of a steamship from Gravesend. Wagner's description of his waterway entrance into London transforms a tempest at sea into the cosmopolitan storm of nautical London:
As we neared the capital, our astonishment steadily increased at the number of ships of all sorts that filled the river, the houses, the streets, the famous docks, and the other maritime constructions which line the banks. When at last we reached London Bridge, this incredibly crowded centre of the greatest city in the world, and set foot on land after our terrible three weeks' voyage, a pleasurable sensation of giddiness overcame us as our legs carried us staggering through the deafening roar. (Quoted in Blyth, p. 7)(35)
Wagner emphasizes here the extent to which London, the center of the late nineteenth-century English empire, bore the signs of maritime professions. At the very heart of English culture lay the structures, values and assumptions of professional seafaring. That is, at the very heart of English culture lay the structures, values, and assumptions of a profession that, given its national military and mercurial importance, rested uncomfortably on the paradoxical union of a putatively disinterested vocational spirit and its commercial interests. Whereas literary domesticity assuaged for awhile the anxiety attendant on this union, its late-nineteenth-century nationalist version makes that anxiety only more overt.
In this sense, The Flying Dutchman represents the domestication of The Wandering Jew legend in so far as it rewrites an open-ended story of worldly and circular male wandering by providing it with the romantic closures of female renunciation and sacrifice, a type of closure critics have associated with the female bildingsroman. The Wandering Jew is domesticated both nationally in that The Flying Dutchman is born of Wagner's entry into nautical and Imperial London, as well as literarily in that it places a wandering tale at home in the tradition of linear Western European nostos narratives like The Odyssey. Ironically, entry into that tradition pivots on the inclusion of a plot device built on female self-sacrifice. Given the fin-de-siecle effeminizing of the Jew in anti-Semitic discourse, it makes sense that the assimilation of a Jew's tale into the English literary canon should entail borrowing a plot convention that is usually associated to female narration.
In returning from this excursion to Daniel Deronda, it would appear that Klesmer's remark is important in a variety of ways. Klesmer, a wandering Jew in England, evokes the domestication of the Wandering Jew legend not only by virtue of his loose association to the professional artists behind The Flying Dutchman, but quite literally in that he, a homeless Jew, is by no means a wanderer; he is a professional artist. And it is from his vantage point, that of the professional artist, that Eliot criticizes English mercantilism. But, as her figurative language has suggested, English mercantilism is for Eliot no different than the intellectualism of universalism. And so the domestication of the Wandering Jew is conflated with the domestication of the intellectual, which, given its ethnic insinuations, can only signal the nationalization of intellectual life. As the Offendene passage first indicated, once domesticity becomes linked to disinterestedness, its only recourse is to a jingoism by which habits of the blood are given the responsibility for creating positive meaning.
This is why the focal home of Daniel Deronda cannot remain in Chelsea. Mirah does not marry Hans (the strategically situated love interest there) does not substantially integrate with the Meyricks' domestic rhythms, and does not ever reveal the domestic ambitions of a conventional home-making heroine. Nor does her amateur professionalism ultimately qualify her: although the novel's professional discourse taps her as chosen, her membership among the Chosen People blocks all conventionally professional lines of development. Thus it is not "culture" as in art that informs her future domesticity, but "culture" as in nation. Ethnic identity substitutes for vocational commitment. And Daniel the broad-visioned intellectual exchanges the disinterestedness of criticism for the partisan politics of a narrow strip of territory called Palestine.
(1) George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, 3 vols. (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1888), p. 27. All citations are from this edition.
(2) Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London and New York: Verso, 1991), pp. 5-6. All citations are from this edition.
(3) Harry G. Frankfurt, The Importance of What We Care About (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1988), p. 12.
(4) Henry James, The Nation 22 (24 February 1876): 131.
(5) Dublin Review 28 (1877): 545.
(6) Jeff Nunokawa, The Afterlife of Property: Domestic Security and the Victorian Novel (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1994).
(7) The famous Offendene passage, which continues below, stands in an interesting relation to Burke's description of the nation. Eliot's substituting a sense of the universal for a sense of national identification suggests that once the immediate community of the family is abstracted into that of the nation, there is no reason why it cannot be abstracted even further, into that of universal mankind. But such a further abstraction risks emptying the imagined nation of its viability. Burke's version reads:
We begin our public affections in our families. No cold relation is as zealous a citizen. We pass on to our neighbors, and our habitual provincial connections ... such divisions of our country as have been formed by habit ... were so many little images of the great country in which the heart found something which it could fill. The love of the whole is not extinguished by this subordinate partiality. Perhaps it is a sort of elemental training to those higher and more large regards, by which alone men come to be affected, as with their own concern, in the prosperity of a kingdom so extensive as that of France. (Quoted in Kelly, Women, Writing and Revolution)
Gary Kelly, Women, Writing and Revolution, 1790-1927 (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1993), p. 16.
(8) Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall, Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850 (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1987), p. 263; David Cannadine, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1989), p. 238; Harold Perkin, The Rise of Professional Society (New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, 1990), p. 119. All citations are from these editions.
(9) Alan Mintz, George Eliot and the Novel of Vocation (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1978), p. 14. All citations are from this edition.
(10) Burton Bledstein, The Culture of Professionalism (Toronto: Norton, 1976), p. 34. All citations are from this edition.
(11) Mary Poovey, Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work of Gender ill Mid-Victorian England (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1988), pp. 9, 25. All citations are from this edition.
(12) Sharon Marcus, "The Profession of the Author: Abstraction, Advertising, and Jane Eyre," PMLA 110:2 (1995): 206-19. All references are from this version of the article.
(13) Edwin P. Whipple, North American Review 124 (1877): 42.
(14) George Eliot, "Leaves from a Notebook," Essays and Leaves from a Notebook (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1885), p. 291. All citations are from this edition.
(15) Mrs. Sarah Stickney Ellis, The Women of England: Their Social Duties and Domestic Habits (Philadelphia, PA: E.L. Carey and A. Hart, 1839), pp. 31-32. All references are to this edition.
(16) Bruce Robbins, Secular Vocations: Intellectual, Professionalism and Culture (New York: Verso, 1993), p. 55. All references are to this edition.
(17) Catherine Gallagher, "Politics, The Profession and the Critic," Diacritics (Summer 1985): p. 39.
(18) Homi Bhabha, ed., Nation and Narration (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 2.
(19) Marc Crispin Miller, Boxed In: The Culture of TV (Evanston, IL: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1989), p. 14.
(20) Whereas Marcus focuses on abstraction in her discussion of the centrality of advertising techniques in the self-fashioning of the female professional author, I would focus on the preemptive irony that can accommodate the apparent oppositions of domestic and professional ideology: production and consumption, male and female, professional and amateur, the self-interest of commercial endeavor and the self-renunciation of vocational commitment.
(21) On the divergence between the professional and entrepreneurial classes, Perkin writes:
Especially in the reformed public schools and universities which formed the next generation of hardworking gentleman, the professional and entrepreneurial ideals began to diverge. The gentleman came to be defined by his "fine and governing qualities," his cultured education, intellectual interests and qualities of character, which rose above mere money making, while the work permissible to him was narrowed down to professional or public service to society the state or the empire, to the exclusion of "money-grabbing" industry and trade. (P. 121)
(22) Johathan Freedman, Professions of Taste: Henry James, British Aestheticism and Commodity Culture (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1998), p 53.
(23) Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire: 1875-1914 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1987); Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1983).
(24) Reviews of Daniel Deronda dismissed the importance of the Jewish question in the second half of the novel as unworthy of Eliot's artistry. The Fortnightly Review, for example, complained
We find it hard to believe that the gathering of Jews and the promotion of their national destinies, is a cause real and substantial enough to consecrate the love of Deronda and Mirah ... It is not a question of what may or may not be going on around us, but of what our imagination can effectively realize.
See Sidney Colvin, "Daniel Deronda," Fortnightly Review 26 (1876): 605.
And so it is no wonder that the 1878 corporate authored Reclaimed, of Gwendolyn: A Sequel to "Daniel Deronda" rewrites the original in order to better fulfill the fairytale happy ending of an "after all": the sequel features Daniel disillusioned with the grubby Palestinians (Jews and Arabs alike), burying Mirah in Christian ground after she dies during childbirth, returning to England, converting to Christianity, and marrying Gwendolyn after all. See Reclaimed or Gwendolyn: A Sequel to "Daniel Deronda" (Boston: Ira Bradley and Co, 1878).
(25) George Eliot, "A Natural History of German Life," Essays and Leaves from a Notebook (London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1885), pp. 204-05. All citations are from this edition.
(26) George Eliot, "The Modern Hep! Hep! Hep!," Impressions of Theophrastus Such (London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1880). All citations are from this edition.
(27) Catherine Gallagher, "George Eliot and Daniel Deronda," Sex, Politics, and Science in the Nineteenth-Century Novel, Ruth Bernard Yeazell, ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1986), p. 56.
(28) Borrowing Bodenheimer's concept of the benevolent "female paternalist" who intervenes in the regional class conflicts pivotal in industrial novels by Trollope, Gaskell, and Bronte, Linehan argues that Daniel Deronda imagines "male maternalism" when social unrest takes on a distinctly national significance:
In this emphasis on love that begins at home we may find an overlap with the Victorian novel's characteristic urging of female-centered private goodness of heart as the sentimental solution to social problems as well as a parallel with the adaptive feminism found in Rosemarie Bodenhiemer's "romance of the female paternalist." Daniel Deronda goes to special extremes, however, in making the sexual separation of spheres part of a conscious, ambitious program for national political recovery and yet conceptually breaching those spheres through the nurturance-centered fantasy we might call the romance of the male maternalist.
See Katherine Bailey Linehan, "Mixed Politics: The Critique of Imperialism in Daniel Deronda," Texas Studies in Literature and Language 34 (1992): 342-43.
(29) Nancy Chodorow, Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1989), p. 10. All citations are from this edition.
(30) Barry Millington, Wagner (New York: Vintage Books, 1986), p. 157; Galit Hasan-Rokem and Alan Dundes, eds., The Wandering Jew: Essays in the Interpretation of a Legend (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1986), p. 78. All citations are from these editions.
(31) G. K. Anderson, The Legend of the Wandering Jew (Providence, RI: Brown Univ. Press, 1965), p. 244. All citations are from this edition.
(32) Gordon S. Haight, George Eliot: A Biography (New York: Penguin Books, 1986), p. 156.
(33) Heinrich Heine, "The Memoirs of Herr Von Schnabelwopski." Charles Godfrey Leland, trans., The Works of Heinrich Heine, 12 vols. (William Heinemann, 1892).
(34) The libretto reads:
"Vonach mit Sehnsucht es dick treibt-das Heil, wurd'es, du Armster, dir durch reich zuteil!" (Wagner, p. 55)
See Richard Wagner, Der Fleigende Hollander, with the B. B. C. Chorus and the New Philharmonia Orchestra, cond. Otto Klemperer, EMI Records Ltd. CMS7-633442, 1989.
(35) Wagner's journal entry is quoted in Alan Blyth, "Wagner's Flying Dutchman: An Operatic Revolution Begins." Libretto. Der Fleigende Hollander, by Richard Wagner, with the B.B.C. Chorus and The New Philharmonia Orchestra, cond. Otto Klemperer, EMI Records Ltd. CMS 7-633442, 1989.
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|Publication:||Studies in the Novel|
|Date:||Sep 22, 1998|
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