Darwin, Dickens, and Dutton


Over at Arts & Letters Daily, Denis Dutton has posted his review (originally in Philosophy and Literature) of the literary critic Joseph Carroll's excellent and provocative new essay collection, Literary Darwinism: Evolution, Human Nature, and Literature.

Dutton's summation:

[Carroll] is able to demonstrate how a knowledge of Darwinian mechanisms shines light on some of the most cherished aesthetic emotions and experiences we are capable of feeling--and he does it without impoverished reductionisms, without making the endlessly complex seem stupidly simple.

Whole thing here.

A million years ago--back in 1998--I covered a similar waterfront in the Reason story "Darwin and Dickens: A new breed of literary crtitics is using evolution to explain literature--and to challenge intellectual orthodoxy." Read all about it here. Carroll, Dutton, and others (including Robert Storey, Ellen Dissanayake, Frederick Turner, and Nancy Easterlin, to name a few) are doing very interesting stuff in this area.