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The Evolution of Frogs and Philosophers: William Paley’s Natural Theology, G.H. Lewes’s Studies in Animal Life and Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race

The humorous comparison of the evolutionary stages of frogs and philosophers is a topical set piece uniting William Paley’s Natural Theology (1802) with George Henry Lewes’s physiological Studies in Animal Life (1862) and Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s satire on evolution in his dystopia The Coming Race (1871). Attention to these seemingly trivial passages not only uncovers direct lines of affiliation between the texts but also helps to differentiate between the three writers’ ideological stances and their pre-Darwinian, Darwinian and anti-Darwinian theories of evolution and organic development. Moreover, Bulwer-Lytton’s novel turns out to be far more detailed in its response to contemporary scientific debates than critics generally assume. B.G. Knepper sums up the critical consensus when listing the novel’s scientific subject matter: “evolution as the basic fact of human development, [...] personal fields of force as the mode of mankind’s next evolutionary advance, and [...] electricity as [...] the bridge between body and intellect”.

Seiten 349 - 356

DOI: https://doi.org/10.37307/j.1866-5381.2005.02.09
Lizenz: ESV-Lizenz
ISSN: 1866-5381
Ausgabe / Jahr: 2 / 2005
Veröffentlicht: 2005-10-01
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Dokument The Evolution of Frogs and Philosophers: William Paley’s Natural Theology, G.H. Lewes’s Studies in Animal Life and Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race