The Vital Science (Routledge Revivals): Biology and the Literary Imagination,1860-1900, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Vital Science (Routledge Revivals)

Biology and the Literary Imagination,1860-1900, 1st Edition

By Peter Morton


258 pages

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In this title, first published in 1984, Peter Morton argues that in late Victorian Britain a group of novelists and essayists quite consciously sought and found ideas in post-Darwinian biology that were susceptible to imaginative transformation. The period between 1860 and 1900 was a time of great confusion in biology; the natural selection hypothesis was in retreat before its acute critics, and no extension of evolutionary theory to human affairs was too bizarre to attract its quota of enthusiasts. Writers capitalised on this prevailing uncertainty and used it to their own artistic or polemic ends. A fascinating and interdisciplinary title, this reissue will interest students of late Victorian literature, as well as historians of biological theory between The Origin of Species and Mendel.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction: Definitions and Perspectives; 1. Darwinism on the Deathbed, 1870-1900: The Failings of Natural Selection 2. Victorian Biology and Victorian Letters: An Overview 3. Better, Wiser, and More Beautiful Beings: The Cheerful Doctrine of Evolutionism 4. Laying the Ghost of the Brute: The Fear of Degeneration 5. Remember, Beethoven’s Father was a Drunkard: The Dubious Appeal of Eugenics 6. Nemesis without Her Mask: Heredity before Mendel 7. This Body Is an Omnibus: The Motif of Heredity in The Way of All Flesh and Tess of the d’Urbervilles; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index

About the Series

Routledge Revivals

Are there elusive titles that you need and have been trying to source for years but thought that you would never be able to find?

Well this may be the end of your quest – here is a fantastic opportunity for you to discover past brilliance and purchase previously out of print and unavailable titles by some of the world’s most eminent academic scholars.

Drawing from over 100 years of innovative, cutting-edge publishing, Routledge Revivals is an exciting programme whereby key titles from the distinguished and extensive backlist of the many acclaimed imprints associated with Routledge will be re-issued.

The programme draws upon the illustrious backlists of Kegan Paul, Trench & Trubner, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Methuen, Allen & Unwin and Routledge itself.

Routledge Revivals spans the whole of the Humanities and Social Sciences, and includes works by some of the world’s greatest thinkers including Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Simone Weil, Martin Buber, Karl Jaspers and Max Beloff.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh