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Thread: Daniel Deronda's foreskin

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Daniel Deronda's foreskin

    I did wonder about this while I was reading it. All the time Daniel spent wondering about his parentage, he never seems to have wondered why he was circumcised. Then on two occasions when he was asked whether he was Jewish, he insisted not. I wonder if it just never occurred to George Eliot that Daniel would be circumcised.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Apparently circumcision in 19 C UK wasn´t restricted to Jewish boys. To my surprise I found this article.
    http://www.historyofcircumcision.net...d=72&Itemid=51
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 11-15-2016 at 04:08 PM.
    "You can always find something better than death."
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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    There's an essay by John Sutherland in one of his collections of literary puzzles with exactly that point.

    I believe in the C20 circumcision was quite common for American Gentile boys, under the belief it was healthier.

    I can remember being puzzled in the changing rooms at school to see circumcised boys.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Registered User prendrelemick's Avatar
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    I was circumcised though not jewish. I asked my mum why, she said it was recommended by the doctor at the time. He was a notorious drunk so I am just grateful his hand was steady on that day.
    ay up

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    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Yeah, you know, whatever God wants.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    Apparently, Sutherland's argument is that Deronda was never circumcised as his mother was alienated from Jewishness and would not allow it.

    Possibly given Victorian coyness over sexual issues on the other hand, the boy Daniel never realized there was something unusual about his willy.
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I skimmed chapter 51 in which Daniel Deronda meets his mother (the Alcharisi). At one point she says:

    My father had tyrannized over me--he
    cared more about a grandson to come than he did about me: I counted as
    nothing. You were to be such a Jew as he; you were to be what he wanted.
    But you were my son, and it was my turn to say what you should be. I said
    you should not know you were a Jew.


    and

    I rid myself of the Jewish tatters and
    gibberish that make people nudge each other at sight of us, as if we were
    tattooed under our clothes, though our faces are as whole as theirs. I
    delivered you from the pelting contempt that pursues Jewish separateness.


    A bit before that she says:

    I had had enough teaching to bring out the born singer and actress within
    me: my father did not know everything that was done; but he knew that I
    was taught music and singing--he knew my inclination. That was nothing to
    him: he meant that I should obey his will. And he was resolved that I
    should marry my cousin Ephraim, the only one left of my father's family
    that he knew. I wanted not to marry. I thought of all plans to resist it,
    but at last I found that I could rule my cousin, and I consented. My
    father died three weeks after we were married, and then I had my way!"


    You could read this as meaning she prevented Daniel Deronda from being circumcised, but however weak her husband may have been, I still think it is unlikely that he would have allowed it. Circumcision is fundamental to Judaism. Daniel Deronda's father died when Daniel was a toddler, but Jewish boys are circumcised when they are eight days old.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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