19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, No 11 (2010)

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Darwin as Metaphor

Emily Ballou


In response to Steven Shapin’s query in the London Review of Books, 'Why such homage?', I look at Darwin as a metaphor for creativity, and how Darwin, as evidenced in his own metaphysical notebooks, imagined and performed acts of creation in his pursuit of science. Many of Darwin’s ideas were first conceptualised imaginatively, instinctively almost. In this way, he created concepts, rather than simply discovering them.

I include a brief discussion of my experience of rendering Darwin and his life into a portrait in 75 poems and also a discussion of the bio-pic Creation. As species change over time, but are still related, so a portrait of Darwin is a descendent of the historical man and his words, but is no longer the historical man. 

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