Madame Bovary's Ovaries A Darwinian Look at Literature

ISBN-10: 0385338023
ISBN-13: 9780385338028
Edition: N/A
List price: $16.00 Buy it from $3.00
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Description: What can elephant seals tell us about Homer’s Iliad? How do gorillas illuminate the works of Shakespeare? What do bloodsucking bats have to do with John Steinbeck? MADAME BOVARY’S OVARIES A Darwinian Look at Literature According to evolutionary  More...

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Book details

List price: $16.00
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 5/30/2006
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 276
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.00" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.484

What can elephant seals tell us about Homer’s Iliad? How do gorillas illuminate the works of Shakespeare? What do bloodsucking bats have to do with John Steinbeck? MADAME BOVARY’S OVARIES A Darwinian Look at Literature According to evolutionary psychologist David Barash and his daughter Nanelle, the answers lie in the most important word in biology: evolution. Just like every animal from mites to monkeys, our day-to-day behavior has been shaped by millions of years of natural selection. So it should be no surprise to learn that the natural forces that drive animals in general and Homo sapiens in particular are clearly visible in the creatures of literature, from Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones all the way to Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones. Seen through the lens of evolutionary biology, the witty repartee of Jane Austen’s courting couples, Othello’s tragic rage, the griping of Holden Caulfield, and the scandalous indiscretions of Madame Bovary herself all make a fresh and exciting kind of sense. The ways we fall in—and out—of love, stand by our friends, compete against our enemies, and squabble with our families have their roots in biological imperatives we share not only with other primates but with an amazing array of other creatures. The result is a new way to read, a novel approach to novels (and plays) that reveals how human nature underlies literature, from the great to the not-so-great. Using the cutting-edge ideas of contemporary Darwinism, the authors show how the heroes and heroines of our favorite stories have been molded as much by evolution as by the genius of their creators, revealing a gallery of characters from Agamemnon to Alexander Portnoy, who have more in common with birds, fish, and other mammals than we could ever have imagined. As engaging and informative as a good story, Madame Bovary’s Ovaries is both an accessible introduction to a fascinating area of science and a provocatively sideways look at our cherished literary heritage. Most of all, it shows in a delightfully enteraining way how science and literature shed light on each other. From the Hardcover edition.

David P. Barash holds a Ph.D. in zoology & is professor of psychology & zoology at the University of Washington. He has been especially active in the growth & development of sociobiology as a scientific discipline.

The Human Nature of Stories: A Quick Hit of Bio-Lit-Crit
Othello and Other Angry Fellows: Male Sexual Jealousy
The Key to Jane Austen's Heart: What Women Want, and Why
How to Make Rhett Give a Damn: What Men Want, and Why
Madame Bovary's Ovaries: The Biology of Adultery
Wisdom from The Godfather: Kin Selection, or the Enduring Importance of Being Family
The Cinderella Syndrome: Regarding the Struggles of Stepchildren
On the Complaints of Portnoy, Caulfield, and Others: Parent-Offspring Conflict
Of Musketeers and Mice and Men and Wrath and Reciprocity and Friendship: In Steinbeck Country and Elsewhere
Epilogue: Foxes, Hedgehogs, Science, and Literature
Index

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