The guests whom George Eliot and George Henry Lewes entertained at their Sunday salons generally included a number of Europeans, as well as an occasional American, during a period when fruitful cross-cultural exchanges coexisted with international tensions that would eventually culminate in the Great War. Although visitors from Russia appeared only sporadically at the Priory, one of the most regular, Olga Novikoff, held and advanced opinions that seldom coincided either with those of her hosts or of the other guests and clashed most seriously with those of Robert Lytton, a particular friend of Lewes's, though only a rare attendee at the Sundays. At the same time, no evidence exists that political differences disturbed the atmosphere at the Priory, even though Novikoff's later letters to the Times revealed that Eliot's highly positive representations of Jewish characters in Daniel Deronda could not have constituted a stronger opposition with the open anti-Semitism of her guest. Meanwhile, Lewes's response to Lytton's position in India in 1876 reveal an attempt to influence international relations extremely rare, if not unique, in the activities of the Priory host.

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