This essay is intended both as a specific study of interconnected moments in nineteenth-century British literature and as an opportunity to explore the cultural and political imagination of a people and its sites of production, reproduction, or transformation. Taking our cue from Edward Saidâs The Question of Palestine (1979), especially his engagement of George Eliotâs last novel, Daniel Deronda (1876), we ask what we might come to expect of literature for what it might tell us about both the cultural-historical contexts from which it arises and the world in which we live today. A number of Saidâs assertions, in light of recent developments in the Middle East, warrant continuing attention. His reading of Eliot provides a way for inquiring into how the Western literary tradition, and in particular the late-nineteenth-century British literary scene, has helped create and circulate dispositional expectations that alternately would conform to or vary from the sociopolitical realities they inhabit. While in Saidâs appraisal Eliot contributes to the former strand (framing quintessential dominant features of the liberal imagination of her time), we suggest that the narrative presentation of divergent and dissenting vantage points can inform our current understandings as well. From Saidâs compelling insights on
Social Text – Duke University Press
Published: Jun 1, 2006
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