George Eliot & Cosima Wagner
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George Eliot & Cosima Wagner

George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), the novelist, was overheard saying to Cosima Wagner, wife of the notoriously anti-Semitic Richard Wagner, “Your husband does not like Jews; my husband is a Jew.”

But her husband was not a Jew, and it’s believed that she was just baiting Cosima. They went on to become friends. (George Eliot did write a novel, “Daniel Deronda,” sympathetic to Jews.)

In his book on Puccini, William Berger writes: “Cosima Wagner (admittedly, a difficult character) is always cited as being even more hateful than her husband, which is simply not within the realm of possibility.”

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