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Good FormThe Ethical Experience of the Victorian Novel$
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Jesse Rosenthal

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196640

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196640.001.0001

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The Large Novel and the Law of Large Numbers: Daniel Deronda and the Counterintuitive

The Large Novel and the Law of Large Numbers: Daniel Deronda and the Counterintuitive

Chapter:
(p.153) Chapter 5 The Large Novel and the Law of Large Numbers: Daniel Deronda and the Counterintuitive
Source:
Good Form
Author(s):

Jesse Rosenthal

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691196640.003.0006

This chapter assesses the counterintuitive: the ending that “feels wrong,” or that does not work out as it seems it should. Certainly, this could mean many things, from a poorly constructed novel to the pedagogy implied by naturalist accident. The form of the counterintuitive that structures much of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda (1876), however, and which enacts the novel's stern moral lesson, develops from Eliot's more social concerns. Eliot, throughout her writing career, worked with an idea of narrative intuition, and formal morality, connected with the model consisting of a working out of the identity between an individual and the larger group. In Deronda, though, with its consistent concentration on ideas of probability and statistical significance, one sees a conceptual shift in Eliot's thinking about the relation of the one and the many. In short: though the larger workings of human interaction indicate that a certain state of affairs shall certainly come about at the largest levels, this offers no indication of how or when this might resolve in the individual case.

Keywords:   counterintuitive, George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, moral lesson, narrative intuition, morality, human interaction, probability, statistics, individual intuition

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