Darwin’s Footprint

Darwin’s Footprint: Cultural Perspectives on Evolution in Greece (1880–1930s)

Maria Zarimis
Series Editor Marius Turda
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 340
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7829/j.ctt13wzts6
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  • Book Info
    Darwin’s Footprint
    Book Description:

    Darwin’s Footprint is dealing with the impact of Darwinism in Greece, investigating how it has shaped Greece in terms of its cultural and intellectual history, and in particular its literature. The book demonstrates that in the late 19th to early 20th centuries Darwinism and associated science strongly influenced celebrated Greek literary writers and other influential intellectuals in various areas such as ‘man’s place in nature’, the naturenurture controversy, religion, and class, race and gender. In addition, the study reveals that many of these individuals were not just dealing with important issues from social, political or philosophical perspectives, as has been the general thought till now, but they were also considering alternative approaches to these issues based on Darwinian and associated biological postDarwinian ideas. These issues included the Greek race/nation, culture, language and identity; politics and gender equality. Zarimis’s book devotes considerable space to the notable novelist, journalist and play writer, Xenopoulos.

    eISBN: 978-963-386-078-6
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. NOTE ON TRANSLITERATIONS
    (pp. xi-xi)
  7. [Illustration]
    (pp. xii-xii)
  8. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-20)

    The main objective of this book is to unveil how Darwinism formed a part of the Greek intellectual and cultural life during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. What will unfold are the informative, intriguing, and often controversial details drawn from the writings of prominent literary figures, historians of science, scientists, politicians, feminists, and other intellectuals from various academic disciplines. Most observations are derived from the literary world, focusing particularly on the important writer Grigorios Xenopoulos (1867–1951) and placing him and the other Greek intellectuals within the context of the international scene.

    Internationally, the ideas and concepts that...

  9. CHAPTER I EVOLUTIONARY THEORIES
    (pp. 21-66)

    It is vital at this point to investigate the main scientific ideas that may have influenced society and the literary world in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. These include aspects of Darwin’s theory, its philosophical implications, and other evolutionary and associated theories popular at the time. I have included the social implications of Herbert Spencer’s theories even though they are not biologically based. I have only done so because Xenopoulos had been keen on Spencer’s theories before these were eclipsed by neo-Darwinism, around 1900; also, because Xenopoulos does allude to them in some of the novels examined in...

  10. CHAPTER II DARWIN AND MODERN GREEK WRITERS
    (pp. 67-116)

    Jina Politi has once remarked that in 1877 “Darwinism constituted a field of intense questioning in Greece,” concluding that “literary writers should not have remained unaffected.”² Literary commentary on Darwinian ideas in the work of modern Greek writers has only been recent; it is disjointed, sporadic, and views on a particular piece of work can often be quite variable and contradictory. In my introductory chapter I discussed the possible factors contributing to the gap in literary scholarship, which were historical and also due to the way Darwinism was received.

    Complementing Politi’s views are those of Eftychia Amilitou, who argues for...

  11. CHAPTER III DARWINIAN REFLECTIONS: CHILDREN’S GUIDANCE
    (pp. 117-158)

    The popular Greek weekly magazineChildren’s Guidance(Η Διάπλασις των Παίδων), published 1879–1947, albeit a children’s magazine, was widely read.² It epitomizes the advent of nineteenth-century periodical literature, which flourished as an important medium for communicating ideas to the wider educated public. Serialized fiction, scientific, and nonscientific issues were to be found side by side; so that among other ideas, scientific matters were discussed in popular weekly periodicals and intellectual quarterlies. Particularly with the British press, this type of periodical has been documented as having played a major role in the public debate which followed after the publication of...

  12. CHAPTER IV A REREADING OF RICH AND POOR: IT’S IN THE EYES
    (pp. 159-202)

    Xenopoulos’ novelRich and poor(Πλούσιοι και φτωχοί) (1919), which has been considered his finest, is also the most reviewed of all his work.² The Darwinian aspects of the novel cannot be ignored, as the novel does not hold together without the evolutionary framework. Evolutionary theory and the sciences of man provided a framework for the literary representation of man in relation to body and mind, social concepts (such as class, race, and gender), and political ideologies (such as socialism and capitalism). Themes of class and class mobility were common in novels in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and...

  13. CHAPTER V METAMORPHOSES OF WOMAN: DANGEROUS FANTASIES
    (pp. 203-248)

    Echoing the social evolution in relation to class and race, and discourses on inheritance and the mind-body relationship, Darwinism also provided a new “scientific” framework for the thinking of sexual differences between, and within, the genders. Darwin’s statements in hisDMon woman’s lower state of evolution and on her biological inferiority fuelled a medical, psychological, artistic and, of course, a literary gender discourse that was pervasive at least up until 1940.²

    Ann Heilmann documents that as early as 1865 the term New Woman was used in theWestminster Review.³ As well as emerging as a social phenomenon, the New...

  14. CHAPTER VI NEW WOMAN BIOLOGY, DEGENERATION/REGENERATION, AND THE DESCENT OF MAN
    (pp. 249-286)

    The New Woman was represented in many ways. On the one hand, she was considered both the cause and result of degeneration and, on the other, she was important in the discourse on the regeneration of a nation. In the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, the discourse of evolutionism became the scientific grounding for the social discourse on the inequalities of gender, race, and class. So as to debate these social issues, the language of biological evolution became the language of social evolution. Moreover, social evolutionism had “emerged … into a Darwinian milieu.”³ Biology reflected society, and the corresponding...

  15. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 287-290)

    This book has endeavored to contribute to the nascent scholarship on the influence of Darwinian, post-Darwinian, and other evolutionary ideas in the works of literary writers and other intellectuals in Greece in the period from 1880 to the 1930s. During this period, biological messages in much of the literature considered here were relevant only to those commentators attuned to the international scientific scene. While this literature was not given the significance it deserved, it is an integral component, along with the sociopolitical component, in the framing of the individual, the society, and the nation in Greece.

    The exploration has also...

  16. ADDENDUM THE FEMALE SEX’S HANDBOOK
    (pp. 291-293)
  17. APPENDIX
    (pp. 294-300)
  18. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 301-318)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 319-333)