Cover image for The descent of love [electronic resource] : Darwin and the theory of sexual selection in American fiction, 1871-1926 / Bert Bender.
The descent of love [electronic resource] : Darwin and the theory of sexual selection in American fiction, 1871-1926 / Bert Bender.
INITIAL_TITLE_SRCH:
The descent of love [electronic resource] : Darwin and the theory of sexual selection in American fiction, 1871-1926 / Bert Bender.
Personal Author:
Publication Date:
1996
ISBN:
9780585171982

9781512814293
Series Search:
Bibliography Note:
Includes bibliographical references (pages 405-419) and index.
Contents:
The descent of man and selection in relation to sex: the Darwinian unknown in American literary history -- Sexual selection -- The descent of love -- Recurrent problems, themes, and scenes in the courtship novels, 1871-1926 -- Evolutionary anthropology and sexual selection in William Dean Howells's Their wedding journey -- Courting design: chance, choice, and sexual difference in Howells's courtship novels of the 1870s -- Darwinian problems in a modern instance: heredity, primitive marriage, and male sexual aggression -- Henry James and The descent of man: "The loves of the quadrupeds" in "The madonna of the future" and Roderick Hudson -- Psychological Darwinism in The portrait of a lady -- Darwin and "The natural history of doctresses": the sex war between Howells, Phelps, Jewett, and James -- Kate Chopin's quarrel with Darwin before the awakening -- The teeth of desire: the awakening and the descent of man.
Abstract:
Upon its publication in 1871, Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex sent shock waves through the scientific community and the public at large. In an original and persuasive study, Bert Bender demonstrates that it is this treatise, rather than any of Darwin's earlier works, that provoked the most immediate and vigorous response from American fiction writers.

These authors embraced and incorporated Darwin's theories, insights, and language, creating an increasingly dark and violent view of sexual love in American realist literature. In The Descent of Love, Bender carefully rereads the works of William Dean Howells, Henry James, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, Harold Frederic, Charles W. Chesnutt, Edith Wharton, and Ernest Hemingway, teasing from them a startling but utterly convincing preoccupation with questions of sexual selection. Competing for readership as novelists who best grasped the "real" nature of human love, these writers also participated in a heated social debate over racial and sexual differences and the nature of sex itself. Influenced more by The Descent of Man than by the Origin of Species, Bender's novelists built upon Darwin's anthropological and zoological materials to anatomize their characters' courtship behavior, returning consistently to concerns with physical beauty, natural dominance, and the power to select a mate.
Content Type:
text
Carrier Type:
online resource
Language:
English