Abstract: The composer Julius Klesmer in George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, ‘a felicitous mix of the German, the Sclave, and the Semite’, and a self-confessed ‘Wandering Jew’, embraces a mode of transnational living and working that challenges the English narrowness of Gwendolen Harleth at the same time as it complicates the novel’s overall journey towards proto-Zionism through Mordecai and Daniel. In this paper, I show how central the figure of the composer is to the novel’s negotiation of nationalism, transnationalism, and cosmopolitanism. The novel’s musical allusions, especially comparisons to specific historical composers, strengthen Klesmer’s identity as, simultaneously, a representative of an array of Jewish musical talent and a proponent of cosmopolitanism which transcends national and racial boundaries. Moreover, Klesmer provides an intersectional counterpoint to the female Jewish musicians in the novel, exposing the allowances of the Zionist project – which I also consider in tandem with Eliot’s essay ‘The Modern Hep! Hep! Hep!’.
Keywords: George Eliot; Cosmopolitanism; Music History; Composers; Wagnerism; Judaism
Biography: Victoria C. Roskams is a DPhil candidate at Mansfield College, University of
Oxford. Her thesis considers the representation and significance of the figure of the
composer in nineteenth-century Anglophone novels including George Eliot’s Daniel
Deronda and George du Maurier’s Trilby, with supplementary material from across
Europe. The thesis traces the development of this curious literary figure from Romantic
to fin-de-siècle literature. Her work is interdisciplinary, combining literary criticism with
musicology, and employing an understanding of music both as an aesthetic force within
the novel and as a cultural-historical context interacting with the novel’s production.
A.3. Between Nationalism, Transnationalism, and Cosmopolitanism in Daniel Deronda’s Klesmer
Victoria C. Roskams