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Darwin and the Novelists: Patterns of Science in Victorian Fiction Paperback – 1 Nov 1991

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Darwin and the Novelists: Patterns of Science in Victorian Fiction + Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction
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Product details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; New edition edition (1 Nov 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226475743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226475745
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 270,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

George Levine is the Kenneth Burke Professor of English at Rutgers University and the author of The Realistic Imagination, published by the University of Chicago Press.

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OF THE GREAT nineteenth-century scientists, Darwin is the one whose impact on nonscientific culture is best known, or at least most widely discussed. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 1 review
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Even unread theories permeate fiction. 27 Jun 2003
By Mary E. Sibley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book functions as both a wonderful review of Victorian period novels and a review of Darwinism for the general reader. Science is part of cultural formation. Even unread theories permeate fiction because others in the milieu talk about the theories and talk about issues forming the foundation for scientific theories. This is a collection of essays extending the reach of the new historicism critical school. It is necessary in using critical method to resist using a kind of metaphorical reductionsim. Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Dickens, Trollope, Conrad, and Hardy are covered.
The scientific view Darwin displaced may be called "natural theology." Darwin learned the language and many of the adaptations from natural theology. The idea of adaptation also implies the idea of interdependence. Darwin may well be taken as the father of ecology. Jane Austen's works reflect the world of pre-Darwinian science. MANSFIELD PARK is a world of disciplined control. It is essentially a closed system. Jane Austen is dedicated to calling things by their right names. By way of contrast, Darwin needed to break the traditional hold of classification. He denies Aristotelian essentialism. Chance and the random become the great creative forces in Darwin's theory. Natural selection is a metaphor for mindless temporal processes.
Dickens had a preoccupation with irrepressible multiplicity. The difference between Darwin and Dickens is that Darwin's laws have no moral significance. In LITTLE DORRIT Dickens's images are of a world irredeemably secular in which both Darwinian theory and thermodynamics would find a place. Darwin and Trollope were alike in taking self-deprecating stances in their autobiographies and being keen observers. Thomas Hardy was preoccupied with close observation and his works encompass the character of the observer and the consequences of the act of observation which may constitute a sort of invasion of privacy. Conrad emphasized the disruptiveness of Darwin's vision. Through his characters Conrad moves from Darwinian distancing and dehumanization to the edge of self-annihilation.
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