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The Articulation of Science in the Neo-Victorian Novel

A Poetics (and Two Case-Studies)


Daniel Candel

The present study offers a poetics of science in the contemporary historical, and more specifically, neo-Victorian novel. Its starting point is both the profound (dis)similarity between science and history, and Ansgar Nünning’s pathbreaking systematisation of the historical novel. The poetics itself is based on a rigorous development and application of four hypotheses. These hypotheses are a direct result of the interdisciplinary nature of a study with at least three, if not four, epistemological concerns, for this is a study of «science» in a «literary» context which deals with «history,» specifically history of the «Victorian» period. Each of the four terms forms the basis for one of the hypotheses. The poetics is tested on two novels which have proved to be land-marks in neo-Victorian fiction: Graham Swift’s Waterland (1983) and A. S. Byatt’s Possession (1990).
Contents: Science – History – Nature – Neo-Victorian – 20th-century novel – Postmodern English fiction – Science and literature – Ecocriticism – Poetics of science in the neo-Victorian novel – Graham Swift: Waterland – A. S. Byat: Possession – Ansgar Nünning.