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The Influence of Darwinism on English Literature and Literary Ideas

  • William Leatherdale
Part of the Australasian Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 2)

Abstract

That Darwinism had a wide and sometimes deep influence on English literature and literary ideas is well attested by previous writings which trace this in specific detail, and it would be superfluous to do more than take notice of these by giving a summary account of their conclusions, as I do below. Except for this summary and my own consideration of some recent examples of specific Darwinian influence, which in any case are cited also to make a general point, my main concern is to take a synoptic view of several aspects of Darwin’s influence on literature and literary ideas in order to come to an understanding of why this influence has been so great — indeed far greater, I believe, than that of any other major scientific theory.

Keywords

Literary Criticism Science Fiction Human Spirit Literary Idea Darwinian Revolution 
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Notes

  1. E. Manier, The Young Darwin and his Cultural Circle (Dordrecht, 1978), pp. 89 ff.Google Scholar
  2. G. B. Shaw, Back to Methuselah (London, New York and Toronto, 1945 ).Google Scholar
  3. C. Caudwell,’George Bernard Shaw: A Study of the “Bourgeois Superman”, in W. C. Scott, Five Approaches of Literary Criticism (New York and London, 1974), p. 148 ff.Google Scholar
  4. M. Peckham, ‘Darwinism and Darwinisticism’, Victorian Studies II, 1959, pp. 19-40. See also on a somewhat similar distinction, J. C. Greene, ‘Darwinism as a World View’, Science, Ideology and World View: Essays in the History of Evolutionary Ideas ( Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1981 ), pp. 128–157.Google Scholar
  5. J. A. Symonds, Essays Speculative and Suggestive (London, 1890), Chapter 2, reproduced in P. Appleman (ed.), Darwin: A Norton Critical Edition (New York, 1970). See p. 605.Google Scholar
  6. H. Spencer, First Principles (London, 1862), p. 216.Google Scholar
  7. Huxley, On the Margin (London, 1971), p. 34.Google Scholar
  8. From ‘Study of Thomas Hardy’ in D. H. Lawrence, Selected Literary Criticism ed. A. Beal (New York, 1956), pp. 166–228.Google Scholar
  9. C. C. Gillispie The Edge of Objectivity. An Essay in the History of Scientific Ideas (Princeton, 1960). p. 305. Google Scholar
  10. See S. E. Marovitz, ‘Aldous Huxley’s Intellectual Zoo’ in R. E. Kuehn (ed.), Aldous Huxley. A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs, 1974 ), pp. 33 - 45.Google Scholar
  11. J. W. Meeker, The Comedy of Survival. Studies in Literary Ecology (New York, 1972 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Leatherdale
    • 1
  1. 1.Universiry of New South WalesAustralia

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