Chapter

Darwin the Writer

George Levine

in Darwin the Writer

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608430
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731709 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608430.003.0001
Darwin the Writer

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The Origin of Species can be taken as a work of literature, like the great poetry and fiction of the Victorian era. The way it is written significantly affects its meaning and significantly contributed to its success; it is expressive as well as descriptively precise; it is highly metaphorical, and personally felt. While the theory of evolution by natural selection implies a severe world always in struggle, Darwin presents that world, as do the writers of the great Victorian realist novels, implying the enormous significance of the most minor phenomenon. Darwin's key rhetorical strategy is to encounter a phenomenon that is apparently inexplicable, express awe that implies it is mysterious and wonderful, and then successfully explain it, leaving it however still wonderful.

Keywords: metaphor; fiction; theory of evolution; rhetoric; meaning

Chapter.  13301 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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