Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George by Gillian Beer

By Gillian Beer

Gillian Beer's landmark ebook demonstrates how Darwin overturned basic cultural assumptions in his narratives, how George Eliot, Thomas Hardy and different writers pursued and resisted their contradictory implications, and the way the tales he produced approximately common choice and the fight for all times now underpin our tradition. This moment version includes a new preface through the writer and a foreword via the celebrated American student George Levine.

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Darwin was much wounded by Herschel’s description of his theory as ‘the law of higgledy-piggledy’,15 but the phrase exactly expresses the dismay many Victorians felt at the apparently random – and so, according to their lights, trivialised – energy that Darwin perceived in the natural world. Darwinian theory takes up elements from older orders and particularly from recurrent mythic themes such as transformation and metamorphosis. It retains the idea of natura naturans, or the Great Mother, in its figuring of Nature.

He was vividly conscious of the substantiality of what he had made up. I was in those days a very great story-teller . . I scarcely ever went out walking without saying I had seen a pheasant or some strange bird (natural history taste); these lies, when not detected, I presume excited my attention, as I recollect them vividly, not connected with shame, though some I do, but as something which by having produced a great effect on my mind, gave pleasure like a tragedy. I recollect when I was at Mr.

Richard Grove, Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600–1800 (Cambridge, 1995). Donna Haraway, Primate Visions: Gender, Race and Nature in the World of Modern Science (London, 1989). Evelyn Fox Keller, Reflections on Gender and Science (New Haven and London, 1985). , 1988). ), One Culture: Essays in Science and Literature (Madison, 1987). ) Realism and Representation: Essays on the Problem of Realism in Relation to Science, Literature, and Culture (Madison, 1993).

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