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

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Losing the Plot: the Geological Anti-Narrative

Adelene Buckland


Geology has often been treated by literary critics as the producer narratives of earth history which were appropriated or resisted by novelists and poets. This paper will problematise this tradition by considering a widespread problematisation of plot as a mode of rational enquiry in the nineteenth century, and which underpinned much literary and geological discourse. Rooting itself in elite, fashionable literary culture, geology often resisted plot as a means of unravelling and describing earth history. Briefly considering the reading and the writings of geologists including Adam Sedgwick, William Buckland and Charles Lyell, this essay demonstrates that geology is a much different case in 'science and literature' than the evolutionary sciences explored by Gillian Beer and George Levine.

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