Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 47 (2016)
The two sequels of my title are a seven-page satirical squib in Mr. Punch's Pocket-Book for 1877 entitled 'Daniel Deronda, Book IX',' and a short novel or long story of around 50,000 words - much the same length as 'Mr. Gilfil's Love-Story' - Gwendolen: or, Reclaimed: A Sequel to Daniel Deronda published in Boston, Mass., in 1878. The novel was published anonymously but there is one edition published by William F. Gill with a variant title page giving the author as one Anna Clay Beecher/ whose identity remains a mystery.' Both these texts have been contextualized, discussed and illumined by the Harvard scholar John Picker in a fine article of 2006 which contains the information about the variant title page: This paper is no more than a modest supplement to Picker's article.
A sequel can be an act of homage, a tribute to the narrative and imaginative power of the original which has generated an interest so strong that it has been left unsatisfied at the end of the work. This is not the case at all with the Punch satire and barely so for Gwendolen; and both could better be described in the terms Picker has proposed of the sequel as reproach. With Gwendolen it is both a reproach and a correction in that, as the title suggests, the sequel dismantles the frustrating obstacles raised by the Jewish plot and finally reunites the heroine with the man she has so long desired. The Punch piece, on the other hand, is a comprehensively irreverent and mocking dismissal of the original, played for cheap laughs and fired by a ferocious anti-Semitism that finds nothing worth redeeming or correcting in Daniel Deronda at all, since clearly its unforgivable sin is to have been centred on a Jew in the first place. What the two sequels have in common is that they indicate the strength of the wide-spread prejudice that George Eliot was boldly confronting in her attempt to treat Jews and ludaism with sympathy and understanding. Perhaps, indeed, their primary interest is as social documents that throw light on the attitudes and prejudices of their day.