The Prose of <i>On the Origin of Species</i>

George Levine

in Darwin the Writer

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608430
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731709 | DOI:
The Prose of On the Origin of Species

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This chapter is a study of certain of the strategies and of the language of Darwin's masterpiece. It attempts to show how Darwin's experience and writing related to the Beagle voyage emerge here in more a more rigorous and less personal argumentative context, but bearing the marks of his writing strategies in the earlier book. The Origin had to make a convincing scientific case, but it also had to be emotionally persuasive, and the combination of these goals produce Darwin's characteristic prose. Here the ‘double movement’ is critical to virtually every major point. Darwin is not only the detached scientist but a personal presence in the prose, expressing wonder as well as arguing calculatedly, and breaking through the limits of a language that is intrinsically inimical to Darwin's vision of a constantly changing and entangled world.

Keywords: narrative story; double movement; characteristic prose; counter-intuitive; vision; natural selection; imagination

Chapter.  14339 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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