UTK PhD candidate Caroline Wilkinson’s “The ‘Former Sun’ in the Sidereal Clock: The Kabbalistic Heavens and Time in The Spanish Gypsy and Daniel Deronda” was recently featured in the first 2016 issue of George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies journal.
Wilkinson’s thought-provoking article considers the importance of astrology and Judaism to George Eliot’s fiction. According to Wilkinson, in both her epic poem The Spanish Gypsy and her final novel Daniel Deronda, Eliot drew upon kabbalistic concepts of the heavens through the characters of Jewish mystics. In the later novel, however, Eliot moved the mystic, Mordecai, from the narrative’s periphery to its center. This change, argues Wilkinson, symbolically equated within the novel to a shift from geocentricism to heliocentrism, affects time in Daniel Deronda both in terms of plot and historical focus. Not only does time slow as Mordecai assumes a central role, the astral imagery begins to draw upon a medieval past when Jewish thinkers explored interdisciplinary concepts of the heavens. This essay argues for the centrality of the astronomical imagery in relation to the Jewish themes of Daniel Deronda and shows through its analysis of The Spanish Gypsy how Eliot employed kabbalistic ideas of the skies in an attempt to create a new vision of star-crossed love for literature.
Check out the entire article in the 2016 George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies journal, volume 68, number 1!