Darwin's Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution

Darwin's Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution

by John Holmes
     
 

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This is a comprehensive study of Darwin's Legacy for religion, ecology and the arts. In Darwin's Bards John Holmes argues that poetry can have a profound impact on how we think and feel about the human condition in a Darwinian world. Including over 50 complete poems and substantial extracts from several more, Holmes shows how poets from Tennyson and Browning,

Overview

This is a comprehensive study of Darwin's Legacy for religion, ecology and the arts. In Darwin's Bards John Holmes argues that poetry can have a profound impact on how we think and feel about the human condition in a Darwinian world. Including over 50 complete poems and substantial extracts from several more, Holmes shows how poets from Tennyson and Browning, through Hardy and Frost, to Ted Hughes, Pattiann Rogers and Edwin Morgan have responded to the discovery of evolution. Written for scientists, philosophers and ecologists, as well as poets, critics and students of literature, Darwin's Bards is a timely intervention into the heated debates over Darwin's legacy for religion, ecology and the arts. The book will appeal to readers for its discussion of the existential implications of Darwinism, for its close readings of poetry, and for the reprinted poems themselves.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Affords subtle, precise, sharp-eyed readings of verse by such well-known Victorian poets as Tennyson, Browning, Meredith, Swinburne and Hardy, as well as more recent poems by the likes of Ted Hughes, Philip Appleman and Thom Gunn. Each of these poets, Holmes argues, grapples with the fundamental, largely unchanging challenges posed by Darwinian evolution, with the book's chapters each focusing on topics including theology, death and immortality, humanity's cosmic insignificance and relationship with other animals, and sex and reproduction... the detailed analysis of verse that deals with these issues often yields fresh insights that will be of interest to more historically minded critics." — iBritish Journal for the History of Sciencer

"Poetry makes evolution conceivable, letting the ear and the imagination know that which the mind struggles to grasp. With its fine ear for poetry's engagement with the science of its age, iDarwin's Bardsr contributes to this work, encouraging an alertness to and enjoyment of the poetry of evolution." — iTennyson Research Bulletinr

"Rich and meticulous analyses ... important not only because it engages oft-overlooked evolutionary poetry, but because its critical discussions provide us with a heretofore missing link in Darwinian literary criticism; in so doing, they give us new views of our Darwinian realities." — iReview of English Studiesr

"A bracing, original and exciting contribution to our understanding and appreciation of the cultural impact of Darwinism; indeed, John Holmes is to be commended for writing an exhilarating and genuinely interdisciplinary study with revealing insights on every page." — iThe Thomas Hardy Journalr

Choice
Recommended.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780748692071
Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
Publication date:
11/30/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Douglas Shedd
John Holmes's coverage of the relationship between science and poetry in Darwin's Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution is remarkably complete. He has a scientist's grasp of evolutionary theory and a thorough understanding of the controversies the theory has engendered. He also understands the difficulty many have had in finding meaning in an existence framed by Darwinism. Holmes's investigation of how poetry addresses these problems is unique, and he is correct in thinking that, "poems can even change how we think about Darwinism itself." Evolutionary science provides many of the details for understanding why the world is the way it is, but we need "Darwin's Bards" to help us interpret these details, incorporate them into our collective consciousness, and fully understand what it means to live in a Darwinian world.

Meet the Author

John Holmes is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Reading

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