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.