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« Further signs of the coming apocalypse | Main | This Week's Acquisitions »

November 23, 2005



Interesting. It's possible, too, that correct spelling didn't matter as much in the 19C (and earlier) as it does to us. Also, what did D mean by saying his name was pronounced with a dipthong? Would that be the long "a" sound we use today?


Well, not exactly a long "a." But do we think of our pronunciation of Disraeli as using a dipthong (if we think about dipthongs at all)? What I was thinking of was that were the "ae" a dipthong, it might be pronounced more like a long "i".


According to the Disraeli Project editors (and where, I don't know--I'm still looking for the citation), Disraeli was trying to dissuade people from pronouncing his name as "Dis-ra-e-li"--as in, e.g., the text accompanying the famous Maclise sketch in Fraser's.

Andre Mayer

The last point (Isaac D.) seems to me very powerful, but the Hannah Rothschild one is very weak. The "D'Israeli" usage was antisemitic only in that it underlined D.'s Jewish origins -- which Rothschild might also have wished to do.

B. McCarthy

D'Israeli was, it has been speculated, originally Israeli, a common Jewish name referring directly to Semitic origins. Benjamin's grandfather presumably changed his name to D'Israeli on arriving in London, which designates 'Of Israeli' but distinguishes the name from a common Semitic one. Regardless of the Romantic origins which Benjamin gives the name 'Disraeli' in his memoirs on his father, Isaac D'Israeli, D'Israeli was an invention of his grandfather and Disraeli was his and his sister's invention. Benjamin's father never changed his name to Disraeli (he died in 1848), but was called that by people discussing Benjamin's life. In this swarm of name changes, it is no wonder a thousand biographers and critics have become a little confused.

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