Daniel Dennett famously claimed for Darwinian theory the status of universal solvent: the totalising theory of theories, even of theories of literature. Yet only a few writers and critics have followed his view. This volume asks why. It examines both evolution in literature, and the evolution of literature. It looks at literary representations of Darwinism both historically and synchronically, at how a theory of literature might be derived from evolutionary theory, and indeed how evolution as a process might be regarded as itself aesthetic. It complements these theoretical and historical dimensions of enquiry with the comparative dimension. It asks in short: What have been the representations of Darwinian evolutionary theory in literature since the late nineteenth century? What are the leading paradigms in theory and in literature for renovating the evolutionary model? What were, and are, the differences in British, French, German paradigms of literary Darwinian reception? How, if at all, did Darwinian modes of thought hybridise across national borders? Last, but not least: What is the future of the Darwinian mode?

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"Mit dem Sammelband The Evolution of Literature werden detailreiche Schilderungen vorgelegt, die insbesondere dem bereits versierten Publikum weitere gute Anregungen geben werden." – Heinz-Jürgen Voss, Halle/Saale, in: Jahrbuch Literatur und Medizin V (2012), pp. 279-281
"Ook vanwege de opname van een omvangrijk personen- en zakenregister is deze bundel (als naslagwerk) gebruiksvriendelijk. Voor de komende winteravonden een bundel waarvan de doelstelling geslaagd mag heten, vol ‘men, monkeys, monsters and evolution’ om de uitbundige natuur in al haar (fictieve) comlexitieit te loven." – Janneke vander Heide, University of Utrecht, in: Vooys 30/4 (2012), pp. 71-74
Nicholas Saul and Simon J. James: Introduction: The Evolution of Literature
David Knight: The Law of Higgledy-pigglety: Charles Darwin’s Inheritance, his Legacy and the Moral Order of Nature
Paul Weindling: ‘Our Racial Friends’: Disease, Poverty and Social Darwinism, 1860-1940
Joseph Emonds: From Primate to Human in Two Easy Steps
David Amigoni: Charles Darwin’s Centenary and the Politics and Poetics of Parenting: Inheritance, Variation, and the Aesthetic Legacy of Samuel Butler
Anna Barton: By An Evolutionist: Poetic Language in Chambers and Tennyson
John Holmes: Victorian Evolutionary Criticism and the Pitfalls of Consilience
Simon J. James: H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine and the End of Literature
Patricia Waugh: Mind in Modern Fiction: Literary and Philosophical Perspectives after Darwin
Alistair Brown: E-Volutionary Fictions: The Darwinian Algorithm in Literature and Computer Games
Jon Adams: Value Judgements and Functional Roles: Carroll’s Quarrel With Pinker
Wendy Wheeler: The Book of Nature: Biosemiotics and the Evolution of Literature
Christopher Lloyd: Men, Monkeys, Monsters and Evolution in Fiction from the Fin-de-siècle to the Present
David Baguley: Zola and Darwin: A Reassessment
Louise Lyle: On the Evolution of Humanity and the Oppressions of Darwinism in French Postwar Fiction
Douglas Morrey: Houellebecq, Genetics and Evolutionary Psychology
Nicholas Saul: ‘Once in Human Nature, a Thing Cannot be Driven Out’: Evolutionary Aesthetics in Wilhelm Jensen’s The Legacy of Blood (1869). An Early Response to Darwin
John A. McCarthy: ‘Live like a Man and not like a Monkey’: Nietzsche’s Philosophic Vitalism and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
David Midgley: ‘Creative Evolution’: Bergson’s Critique of Science and its Reception in the German-Speaking World
Katja Mellmann: Evolutionary Psychology as a Heuristic in Literary Studies