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Text in the Natural World

Topics in the Evolutionary Theory of Literature


Laurence A. Gregorio

The study of literature has expanded to include an evolutionary perspective. Its premise is that the literary text and literature as an overarching institution came into existence as a product of the same evolutionary process that gave rise to the human species. In this view, literature is an evolutionary adaptation that functions as any other adaptation does, as a means of enhancing survivability and also promoting benefits for the individual and society. Text in the Natural World is an introduction to the theory and a survey of topics pertinent to the evolutionary view of literature. After a polemical, prefatory chapter and an overview of the pertinent aspects of evolutionary theory itself, the book examines integral building blocks of literature and literary expression as effects of evolutionary development. This includes chapters on moral sense, symbolic thought, literary aesthetics in general, literary ontology, the broad topic of form, function and device in literature, a last theoretical chapter on narrative, and a chapter on literary themes. The concluding chapter builds on the preceding one as an illustration of evolutionary thematic study in practice, in a study of the fauna in the fiction of Maupassant. This text is designed to be of interest to those who read and think about things literary, as well as to those who have interest in the extension of Darwin’s great idea across the horizon of human culture. It tries to bridge the gulf that has separated the humanities from the sciences, and would be a helpful text for courses taught in both literary theory and interdisciplinary approaches to literature and philosophy.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Laurence A. Gregorio, author Title: Text in the natural world: topics in the evolutionary theory of literature / Laurence A. Gregorio. Description: New York: Peter Lang, 2017. Series: Studies on themes and motifs in literature; vol. 133 | ISSN 1056-3970 Includes bibliographical references. Identifiers: LCCN 2017007781 | ISBN 978-1-4331-3771-6 (hardcover: alk. paper) ISBN 978-1-4331-3768-6 (ebook pdf) | ISBN 978-1-4331-3769-3 (epub) ISBN 978-1-4331-3770-9 (mobi) Subjects: LCSH: Nature in literature. | Literature—Philosophy. Classification: LCC PN48 .G65 2017 | DDC 801/.9--dc23 LC record available at DOI 10.3726/b11544 Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

© 2017 Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York 29 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY 10006 All rights reserved. Reprint or reproduction, even partially, in all forms such as microfilm, xerography, microfiche, microcard, and offset strictly prohibited.

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