Charles Darwin and the Church of Wordsworth - Oxford English Monographs (Hardback)
  • Charles Darwin and the Church of Wordsworth - Oxford English Monographs (Hardback)
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Charles Darwin and the Church of Wordsworth - Oxford English Monographs (Hardback)

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£61.00
Hardback 218 Pages / Published: 11/02/2016
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Charles Darwin and the Church of William Wordsworth is a study of the cultural connections between two of the nineteenth century's most influential figures, Charles Darwin and William Wordsworth. When Darwin presented On the Origin of Species, his reading public's affective response to the natural world had already been profoundly influenced by William Wordsworth. Wordsworth presented nature as benign, harmonious, a source of moral inspiration and spiritual blessing, and a medium through which one might enter into communion with the Divine. Long after his death, he continued to be revered throughout the English-speaking world, not only as a great poet, but as a theologian with a broader following than any prelate and an appeal that transcended or ignored sectarian differences. For believers and sceptics alike, Wordsworth's poetry offered a readily accessible and intellectually respectable counterweight to Darwin's vision of a material universe evolving by fixed laws in which Divinity played no discernible role and where concepts like beauty and harmony were material conditions to be explained in scientific terms. Wordsworth's theology of nature became for many readers a more effective counterforce to Darwin's ideas than Biblical orthodoxy, but it also provided an enriching context for the reception of evolutionary theory, aiding theists in their effort to reach an accommodation with the new science. As the nineteenth century's two most prominent theoreticians of nature's life, Wordsworth and Darwin competed for attention among those seeking to understand humanity's relationship with the natural world, and their disciples engaged in a productive, mutually transformative dialogue in which the poet's cultural authority influenced the way Darwin was received, and Darwinian science adjusted interpretation and evaluation of the poetry. Charles Darwin and the Church of William Wordsworth explores the broad cultural relationship between Wordsworth, Darwin, and their disciples, contextualising them within wider discussions about the relationship between religion and science in the nineteenth century.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198757351
Number of pages: 218
Weight: 384 g
Dimensions: 223 x 139 x 19 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Charles Darwin and the Church of Wordsworth is a study of the reception of William Wordsworths poetry during the Victorian era, and its central thesis is that Wordsworth offered a spiritual understanding of the natural world that, for Victorian readers, offered an alternative, or a necessary supplement, to the scientific materialism of Darwin and his followers. * Bruce Graver, European Romantic Review *
"Most critics today would hesitate before comparing Wordsworth with Jesus Christ", Robert Ryan comments drily...But as Ryan shows in his well-argued book, a saviour was exactly what the poet became...This is an important resurrection of the complex cultural relationship between what Ryan calls the "dark star" of Wordsworth's influence and the scientist who himself rearranged the cosmos. * Freya Berry, Times Literary Supplement *
Ryans book is both satisfying as a work of deep and deeply felt scholarship, and as an engagement with the Wordsworthian project to fill the world with meaning and feeling * George Levine, The Wordsworth Circle *
Ryan's close readings of Wordsworth's poetic strategies here are a masterful demonstration of how literary criticism, as well as a knowledge of literary culture, can advance our understanding of the history of science and its ramifications. * John Holmes, Annals of Science *

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