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Darwin's Plots
Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction

3rd Edition


George Levine
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  • Date Published: May 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521767699

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About the Authors
  • Gillian Beer's classic Darwin's Plots, one of the most influential works of literary criticism and cultural history of the last quarter century, is here reissued in an updated edition to coincide with the anniversary of Darwin's birth and of the publication of The Origin of Species. Its focus on how writers, including George Eliot, Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hardy, responded to Darwin's discoveries and to his innovations in scientific language continues to open up new approaches to Darwin's thought and to its effects in the culture of his contemporaries. This third edition includes an important new essay that investigates Darwin's concern with consciousness across all forms of organic life. It demonstrates how this fascination persisted throughout his career and affected his methods and discoveries. With an updated bibliography reflecting recent work in the field, this book will retain its place at the heart of Victorian studies.

    • An influential interdisciplinary study
    • It focuses on how writers, including George Eliot, Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hardy, responded to Darwin's discoveries
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Gillian Beer's superb study [is] a work of criticism that takes its modest place among the other 'cloudy triumphs' of English genius.' Michael Neve, Sunday Times

    'Offers fresh insights into familiar themes in the history of science by dealing with them in quite a new way.' John Durant, The Times Literary Supplement

    'The only problem with this book is deciding what to praise first. It draws on a breadth of knowledge in many fields, its literary readings are alert and original, it has a profound grasp of idea and form. It must be read by the scientist, the student of Victorian thought and art and the educated person in the street. … The book is so exciting as a work of literary criticism - among much else - that it must provoke and disturb old interpretations and judgements.' Barbara Hardy, New Statesman

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    Product details

    • Edition: 3rd Edition
    • Date Published: May 2009
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521767699
    • length: 330 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.65kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Foreword George Levine
    Preface to second edition
    Part I. Darwin's Language:
    1. 'Pleasure like a tragedy': imagination and the material world
    2. Fit and misfitting: anthropomorphism and the natural order
    Part II. Darwin's Plots:
    3. Analogy, metaphor and narrative in The Origin
    4. Darwinian myths
    5. George Eliot: Middlemarch
    6. George Eliot: Daniel Deronda and the idea of a future life
    7. Descent and sexual selection: women in narrative
    8. Finding a scale for the human: plot and writing in Hardy's novels
    9. Darwin and the consciousness of others
    Select bibliography of primary works.

  • Author

    Gillian Beer, University of Cambridge
    Gillian Beer is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge.


    George Levine

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