It is possible that Darwin was freed from some of the difficulties he experienced in expressing the relation of man to the rest of the natural order by his reading of Dickens, whose style insists upon the recalcitrance of objects — their way of mimicking the human order without yielding their own 'haecceitas'. The theme of hidden yet all-pervasive kinship is one which their narratives share . . . .

"For example, Darwin sought to restore man to his kinship with all other forms of life. In that sense he was bent on an enterprise which seemed to accord with the surface ideals of his society and its literature. He sought the restoration of familial ties, the discovery of a lost inheritance, the restitution of pious memory, a genealogical enterprise. [p. 62]

Related material


Beer, Gillian. Darwin's Plots.

Last modified 1988; links added 10 November 2015