Gillian Beer's landmark book demonstrates how Darwin overturned fundamental cultural assumptions in his narratives, how George Eliot, Thomas Hardy and other writers pursued and resisted their contradictory implications, and how the stories he produced about natural selection and the struggle for life now underpin our culture. This second edition of Darwin's Plots incorporates a new preface by the author and a foreword by the distinguished American scholar George Levine.
• Second edition of a ground-breaking book by a famous author • Offers new preface by the author reflecting developments in Darwin studies since the book's first publication (by Routledge and Kegan Paul) in 1983 • Foreword by top American scholar George Levine
Foreword George Levine; Preface to second edition; Introduction; 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; Select bibliography of primary works.
'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
'Gillian Beer's superb study … 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