By Sebastian Faulks

The occasions of Pietro Russell's lifestyles are advised in 26 chapters. From A-Z each one bankruptcy is decided in a special position and divulges a fraction of his tale. As his thoughts flicker from side to side via time in his look for a answer to the conflicts of his lifestyles, his tale progressively unfolds. . .

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This tension is not that of opposition or dualism or a set of mutually exclusive factors; rather it is a pair of tendencies each embedded in the other. It is similar to the tension that contemporary evolutionary thinkers sometimes identify in the relationship between deterministic historical patterns and the randomness of events. Stephen Jay Gould recognizes this tension as mediated by contingency, which is “a thing unto itself, not a titration of determinism by randomness;” Gould argues that if we could back up to any point in the evolutionary history of life and let it develop from there all over again, it would “lead evolution down a pathway radically different from the road actually taken.

2) Nordau seems almost to subscribe to the same apocalyptic vision: “One epoch of history is unmistakably in its decline, and another is announcing its approach. There is a sound of rending in every tradition, and it is as though the morrow would not link itself with to-day. Things as they are totter and plunge, and they are suffered to reel and fall, because man is weary. . Views that have hitherto governed minds are dead” (5–6). In response to this perceived historical rupture and corresponding malaise, he contends that degenerate authors and artists in effect make false and pernicious claims about what the future should value aesthetically and hence morally, for the masses “hope that in the chaos of thought, art may yield revelations of the order that is to follow on this tangled web” (6).

Frederick Turner, Ellen Dissanayke, and Ellen Easterlin have pursued that idea from various perspectives, while Joseph Carroll has become its most prominent champion. Brett Cooke and Frederick Turner sample the writings of these and other investigators of evolution in the humanities in their collection of essays, Biopoetics: Evolutionary Exploration in the Arts (1999), and Harold Fromm provides a helpful overview of the trend in his essay, “The New Darwinism in the Humanities” (2003). Madam Bovary’s Ovaries: A Darwinian Look at Introduction 2.

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