Description : Dominated by Darwinism and the numerous guises it assumed, evolutionary theory was a source of opportunities and difficulties for late Victorian novelists. Texts produced by Wells, Hardy, Stoker, and Conrad are exemplary in reflecting and participating in these challenges. Not only do they contend with evolutionary complications, John Glendening argues, but the complexities and entanglements of evolutionary theory, interacting with multiple cultural influences, thoroughly permeate the narrative, descriptive, and thematic fabric of each. All the books Glendening examines, from The Island of Doctor Moreau and Dracula to Heart of Darkness, address the interrelationship between order and chaos revealed and promoted by evolutionary thinking of the period. Glendening's particular focus is on how Darwinism informs novels in relation to a late Victorian culture that encouraged authors to stress, not objective truths illuminated by Darwinism, but rather the contingencies, uncertainties, and confusions generated by it and other forms of evolutionary theory.
Description : Anne DeWitt examines how Victorian novelists challenged the claims of men of science to align scientific practice with moral excellence.
Description : Criticism about the neo-Victorian novel — a genre of historical fiction that re-imagines aspects of the Victorian world from present-day perspectives — has expanded rapidly in the last fifteen years but given little attention to the engagement between science and religion. Of great interest to Victorians, this subject often appears in neo-Victorian novels including those by such well-known authors as John Fowles, A. S. Byatt, Graham Swift, and Mathew Kneale. This book discusses novels in which nineteenth-century science, including geology, paleontology, and evolutionary theory, interacts with religion through accommodations, conflicts, and crises of faith. In general, these texts abandon conventional religion but retain the ethical connectedness and celebration of life associated with spirituality at its best. Registering the growth of nineteenth-century secularism and drawing on aspects of the romantic tradition and ecological thinking, they honor the natural world without imagining that it exists for humans or functions in reference to human values. In particular, they enact a form of wonderment: the capacity of the mind to make sense of, creatively adapt, and enjoy the world out of which it has evolved — in short, to endow it with meaning. Protagonists who come to experience reality in this expansive way release themselves from self-anxiety and alienation. In this book, Glendening shows how, by intermixing past and present, fact and fiction, neo-Victorian narratives, with a few instructive exceptions, manifest this pattern.
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