# 71 / Editorial


We conclude this week our long interview with Daniel Mendelsohn. In this last part, he surveys the politics of our period: the rise of populism in the United States and Europe, the resurgence of antisemitism in the West, and Israel’s status as bastion. He also discusses the current war in Ukraine, a country that he knows intimately — he traveled often there in the course of writing The Lost. He strikes a pessimistic tone: “The only thing we can be sure of after studying history – and we know this as specialists in antiquity – is that history repeats itself. The gadgets get better, but human nature remains the same. I see it right here in my own country. Humans, fundamentally, are appalling.”

This week’s issue of K. also features another English-language writer, and one book in particular. George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, published in 1876, stands as a monument of British literature. Raised in an aristocratic household, Deronda longs to discover his origins. Who are his real parents? A fortuitous encounter leads him into the Whitechapel section of London and the world of British Jews… Josh Glancy looks back at the meaning and significance of this unique novel. In Daniel Deronda, Glancy discerns an empathetic parable on Jewish integration in Victorian England and Eliot’s Zionist overtones.

Finally, we also republish a report by Élie Petit: the outlandish tale of how Brexit almost cut off Belfast’s few remaining Jews from access to kosher food. Petit’s reportage, in which he records the herculean labors of state and communal authorities to obtain kosher meat in Northern Ireland, is a snapshot of a community that has long been vulnerable to the vicissitudes of politics in the United Kingdom. How long are Belfast’s Jews, for decades in numerical decline, to endure?

We see in the books of Daniel Mendelsohn how the  convulsions of geopolitics forever intrude on the intimate lives of his characters. How does Mendelsohn feel about the tumult of our own times? He comments on topics ranging from the Trump presidency to the current war in Ukraine to the state of Israel, in this last installment of our interview focusing on the author’s political vision.

Published in 1876, Daniel Deronda is a unique novel in the history of 19th century English literature. Raised in an aristocratic household, Deronda longs to discover his true origins. Who are his real parents? A chance meeting draws him into Whitechapel and the world of British Jews, with whom he has a growing affinity, before eventually discovering the remarkable story of his own birth. Set at the zenith of Victorian England, George Eliot’s last novel displays a deep empathy towards British Jews, while also laying out the author’s firm proto-Zionist sympathies. How did she pull off this singular feat? And why?

A victim of Brexit’s collateral damage, the Jewish community in Northern Ireland, founded in 1870, might not live past 150. Indeed, the Brexit deal and its ‘Northern Ireland Protocol’, combined with the 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal (the Good Friday Agreement),concluded at the end of ‘the Troubles,’ created a new customs border, down the Irish sea. And threatened the supply of kosher food and the continuation of the Belfast Jewish community which counts around 100 members.

With the support of:

Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.