Saturday, January 07, 2006

Literary mutation ...

Scott McLemee takes a look at Franco Moretti, author of Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History: Literature to Infinity. A key passage:

Moretti is a cultural Darwinist, or something like one. Anyway, he is offering an alternative to what we might call the “intelligent design” model of literary history, in which various masterpieces are the almost sacramental representatives of some Higher Power. (Call that Power what you will -– individual genius, “the literary imagination,” society, Western Civilization, etc.) Instead, the works and the genres that survive are, in effect, literary mutations that possess qualities that somehow permit them to adapt to changes in the social ecosystem.

Am I the only person who is beginning to think that Darwinism is rapidly morphing into something that, by explaining everything, actually explains nothing at all?

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