NABOKV-L post 0020637, Mon, 30 Aug 2010 11:12:57 -0400

Lolita and Non-Darwinian evolutionary theory
Of potential interest to list

Title: Monstrous Fate: The Problem of Authorship and Evolution by
Natural Selection
Authors(s): Victoria N. Alexander and Stanley Salthe
Source: Annals of Scholarship, Volume 19, Issue 1 (Aug., 2010), 45-66.

Abstract: A widely remarked fact about On the Origin of Species is
that it is not about "origins" per se—singular points at which
something new begins—but about gradual changes in the
proportions of already existing forms. Artists and others have long
resisted Darwin's revolution on the grounds that natural selection
does not explain evolution, a theory of which must include a
theory of actual creativity. In early 20th-century biology, there were
still many vocal and powerful dissenters: William Bateson and C. H.
Waddington (also a painter and a poet), Richard
Goldschmidt, and D'Arcy Thompson, who were heir to 19th-century
teleomechanists and morphologists such as von Baer, Mivart, Owen,
Muller, and Geoffroy. Repressed in the 1950s
during the hardening of the Modern Synthesis, ideas about evolutionary
creativity and progress have bubbled up again. Saltationists have
increased in number, and Robert G. B. Reid, in his
recent Biological Emergences: Evolution by Natural Experiment (2007),
describes a neoDarwinian house that is now deeply altered from within.
Many of those calling themselves
selectionists have actually strayed far from the fold insofar as their
research shows that saltatory changes occur and the resulting
organisms are immediately viable, making natural selection as a force
of change superfluous. Now is precisely not the time for students of
literature to start looking to Darwinists for guidance. Rather the
reverse is true: neoDarwinists could do well to
refocus attention on creativity and the processes whereby variations
come to be. This paper examines non-Darwinian authorship in Vladmir
Nabokov, (late) Henry James and various other 20th
century novelists.

Tori Alexander

Victoria N. Alexander, Ph.D.
Dactyl Foundation
64 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
212 219-2344

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