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Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology (Oxford World's Classics)

Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology (Oxford World's Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Laura Otis

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Product Description

Product Description

This anthology brings together a generous selection of scientific and literary material to explore the exchanges and interactions between them. It shows how scientists and creative writers alike fed from a common imagination in their language, style, metaphors and imagery. It includes writing by Michael Faraday, Thomas Carlyle, Thomas Hardy, Charles Babbage, Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain and many others. - ;'It has been said by its opponents that science divorces itself from literature; but the statement, like so many others, arises from lack of knowledge.' John Tyndall, 1874

Although we are used to thinking of science and the humanities as separate disciplines, in the nineteenth century that division was not recognized. As the scientist John Tyndall pointed out, not only were science and literature both striving to better 'man's estate', they shared a common language and cultural heritage. The same subjects occupied the writing of scientists and novelists: the quest for 'origins', the nature of the relation between society and the individual, and what it meant to
be human. This anthology brings together a generous selection of scientific and literary material to explore the exchanges and interactions between them. Fed by a common imagination, scientists and creative writers alike used stories, imagery, style, and structure to convey their meaning, and to
produce work of enduring power.

The anthology includes writing by Charles Babbage, Charles Darwin, Sir Humphry Davy, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Michael Faraday, Thomas Malthus, Louis Pasteur, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Mark Twain and many others, and introductions and notes guide the reader through the topic's many strands. -

About the Author

Laura Otis was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her interdisciplinary studies of the nervous system, and is currently working at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2057 KB
  • Print Length: 618 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, UK (18 July 2002)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #145,433 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By Far Best Available on Topic but Incomplete 11 May 2009
By Rudolph V. Dusek - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This anthology is extraordinarily well done. The selections are interwoven, mainly to show the impact of the scientific and medical topics present in the science writings on the literary and poetic works included. It is chosen and arranged with brilliance. It covers the mathematical and physical sciences, the biological and medical science, and the mental and social sciences. One could only wish that the introductions to the general sections were longer and that there were introductions to the subsections, as the author is a McArthur Award winning pioneer in this field full of insights.

To criticize such a pioneering and excellent compilation may seem ungrateful, but I think the editor should have added to the title "British Literature and Science" Although there are some French (Pasteur, Lamarck, Bichat, Comte) and some German (Helmholtz, Spurzheim, Engels) and one Italian (Galvani) selection, these are few in contrast to the over ninety English selections. I suspect that the non-English selections were chosen in part for the availability of pre-existing nineteenth century English translations. Also, the foreign language selections are ones that impacted English literature. European writers such as Goethe (who dabbled in at least four sciences, and who included geological and chemical allusions in his poetry and novels) and Zola (who incorporated notions of biological inheritance), as well as the obvious Jules Verne, are not included.

There are even, what seem to me, surprising omissions from the English language selections. Charles Kingsley, who wrote on evolutionary topics in "Water Babies" and in his natural theology, and Walt Whitman's "I Hear the Learned Astronomer."

Although the selections extensively document the impact of literature on science, they do not document influences in the opposite direction (for instance the impact of Wordsworth's poetry on Darwin, or of Coleridge on Humphry Davy and Faraday as well as on William Rowan Hamilton and Maxwell.)

Despite these lacunae this anthology is a path-breaking and monumental achievement and should be of use to all who teach courses on literature and science. Everyone studying the area is in Otis' debt.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Anthology 18 May 2010
By Susan Reynolds - Published on
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I am by no means an expert on nineteenth-century science (and, as you can see from other reviewers, this book doesn't have all that it needs), but this Oxford anthology is fascinating! There are all kinds of examples of scientific writing that would spark the interest of just about anyone and would at least, as it did in my case, give you a great starting point for further research.

Of course, the usual topics are covered: Evolution, population, mathematics, etc. However, there are also writings about poverty and women and various other topics.

In short, this is an exceptional collection of nineteenth-century scientific writing excerpts. If you enjoy reading nineteenth-century novels (from Dickens to Hardy), then this volume provides wonderful supplementary material.
3.0 out of 5 stars AN original Anthology but without much deepness 22 April 2011
By Fabrizzio Mc Manus - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The opening essay is interesting but a little bit shallow and superficial. The particular essays accompanying particular sections suffer from the same problem. The thesis endorsed by the author is not explored in the book, it is just offered and the reader must arrive at his / her own conclusions.
The major contribution of this anthology is of course the selection of texts. I will strongly recommend buying it only for this reason alone. It invites us to novel readings of classical literary and scientific texts.
It explores a wide range of disciplines and shows some similarities that might lead us to accept something akin to a zeitgeist in XIX century literature and science.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 16 Nov 2014
By D. Visser - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
School book for college.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 4 Oct 2014
By Soulihe Nida - Published on
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