Charles Darwin Criticism - Essay

Theodore Baird (essay date 1946)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Darwin and the Tangled Bank," in American Scholar, Vol. 15, No. 4, Autumn, 1946, pp. 477-86.

[In the following essay, Baird comments on Darwin's use of metaphorical language in describing his responses to nature.]

Details of the scene can be filled in. They were both very great men. Carlyle was eighty. On his latest birthday he had been much honored. From Prussia came a decoration—"The Star . . . is really very pretty . . . hung with a black ribbon, with silver edges. . . . Had they sent me a 1/4 lb. of good Tobacco the addition to my happiness had probably been . . . greater!" From America and Harvard came an honorary LL.D., and Disraeli, beginning his...

(The entire section is 3555 words.)

Stanley Edgar Hyman (essay date 1959)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Origin of Species," in The Tangled Bank: Darwin, Marx, Frazer and Freud as Imaginative Writers, Grosset & Dunlap, 1959, pp. 26-43.

(The entire section is 8813 words.)

Gillian Beer (essay date 1983)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Fit and Misfitting: Anthropomorphism and the Natural Order," in Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Ark, 1983, 49-76.

[In the following essay, Beer explores Darwin's use of language in describing the place of man within his theory of nature.]

In the Introduction to the 1814 edition of The Excursion Wordsworth discussed the philosophical enterprise in which his poem was engaged and set forth his aspirations for man: the hope that the ideal may be Ά simple produce of the common day', by means of 'the discerning intellect of man' 'wedded to this goodly universe'. In the 'wedding' (the unification...

(The entire section is 13316 words.)

John R. Durant (essay date 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Ascent of Nature in Darwin's Descent of Man," in The Darwinian Heritage, edited by David Kohn, Princeton University Press, 1985, pp. 283-306.

[In the following essay, Durant studies the development of Darwin's arguments for the transmutation of human beings through sexual and natural selection in The Descent of Man.]

What a chance it has been . . . that has made a man.

(Darwin, E Notebook, 68-69)

It is a fact familiar to all historians of science that Darwin was extremely slow to put his most important ideas into print. Having become a convinced...

(The entire section is 12664 words.)

Robert M. Young (essay date 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Darwin's Metaphor: Does Nature Select?," in Darwin's Metaphor: Nature's Place in Victorian Culture, Cambridge University Press, 1985, pp. 79-125.

[In the following essay, originally published in The Monist, Young places Darwin's theory of natural selection in the contexts of intellectual history, analyzing its scientific value, the objections it has elicited, and its philosophical, theological, and social influence.]


It is not too great an exaggeration to claim that On the Origin of Species was, along with Das Kapital, one of the two most significant works in the intellectual history of the nineteenth...

(The entire section is 22446 words.)

Linda S. Bergmann (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Reshaping the Roles of Man, God, and Nature: Darwin's Rhetoric in On the Origin of Species," in Beyond the Two Cultures: Essays on Science, Technology, and Literature, edited by Joseph W. Slade and Judith Yaross Lee, Iowa State University Press, 1990, pp. 79-98.

[In the following essay, originally delivered as a lecture in 1983 and revised in 1990 for publication, Bergmann discusses Darwin's rhetoric in Origin of Species, describing the ways in which he attempts to persuade his audience to accept a theory that implies human limitation and the possible absence of God.]

(The entire section is 9016 words.)