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Realism, Ethics and Secularism
Essays on Victorian Literature and Science


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  • Date Published: October 2008
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521885263

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About the Authors
  • George Levine is one of the world's leading scholars of Victorian literature and culture. This collection of his essays develops the key themes of his work: the intersection of nineteenth-century British literature, culture and science and the relation of knowledge and truth to ethics. The essays offer perspectives on George Eliot, Thackeray, the Positivists, and the Scientific Naturalists, and reassess the complex relationship between Ruskin and Darwin. In readings of Lawrence and Coetzee, Levine addresses Victorian and modern efforts to push beyond the limits of realist art by testing its aesthetic and epistemological limits in engagement with the self and the other. Some of Levine's most important contributions to the field are reprinted, in revised and updated form, alongside previously unpublished material. Together, these essays cohere into an exploration both of Victorian literature and culture and of ethical, epistemological, and aesthetic problems fundamental to our own times.

    • A collection of the best essays on literature and science by this eminent scholar
    • Spans the themes he has developed throughout his career
    • Will be of interest to scholars and students of Victorian literature and culture, particularly in their interactions with new scientific disciplines and methodologies
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    • Winner of the British Society for Literature and Science book prize for 2008.

    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'In Realism, Ethics and Secularism, George Levine reaffirms once again his position as one of the most thoughtful and relevant critics working on literature and science over the last thirty years … Levine moves effortlessly among the full range of Victorian fiction and non-fiction, even as he responds, always courteously and judiciously, to the arguments of contemporary literary critics, philosophers, scientists and historians … It is hard to imagine a better introduction to scholarship in literature and science today and to its wider significance … a major contribution to our understanding of Victorian culture and realist fiction … it is a model of literary criticism itself. On all of these grounds, it deserves to be read widely and deeply.' John Holmes, University of Reading

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2008
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521885263
    • length: 294 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Part I. The Subject Broached: Otherness, Epistemology, and Ethics:
    1. George Eliot and the hypothesis of reality
    Part II. Ethics Without God, or, Can 'Is' be 'Ought':
    2. Is life worth living?
    3. Ruskin and Darwin and the matter of matter
    4. Scientific discourse as an alternative to faith
    5. In defense of positivism
    6. How science isn't literature: the importance of differences
    Part III. Literature, Secularity, and the Quest for Otherness:
    7. Victorian realism
    8. Dickens, secularism and agency
    9. The heartbeat of the squirrel
    10. Real toads in imaginary gardens, or vice versa.

  • Author

    George Levine, Rutgers University, New Jersey


    • Winner of the British Society for Literature and Science book prize for 2008.

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