Of Dickens and Darwin

Despite appearances, scientists and literary authors have spent centuries mirroring each other, albeit indirectly

Priya Venkatesan
Dec 6, 2007
It's rare for scientists and literary authors to cross paths. A scientist often works within the hermetic enclaves of a laboratory, and authors -- well, many never set foot in a laboratory their entire lives. As a result, they generally don't talk to each other. However, I argue that they do talk to each other, albeit indirectly -- scientists are indeed influenced by literary and humanistic discourse, and scientific principles are reflected in literary works. For example, critic I. A. Richards argued that positivism, a philosophy of science that maintains that knowledge is only arrived at through direct observation, should serve as an example for literary theory. George Eliot, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens, authors who wrote during the Victorian era, appropriated many of the scientific arguments of their day into their works. Eliot and Hardy, in fact, showed interest and fascination with accounts of scientific invention and discovery,...
Bleak HouseDarwinismGravity's RainbowWhite Noisechallenge this long-standing principlemail@the-scientist.comPriya Venkatesan holds a master's degree in genetics from the University of California at Davis and a doctorate in literature from the University of California at San Diego. She is currently a lecturer in the writing program at Dartmouth College.The Scientisthttp://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53665/Bleak Househttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleak_HouseThe Scientisthttp://www.the-scientist.com/2005/08/29/10/1/The Scientisthttp://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/17116/

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