Stella's sea (novel) : Conflicting literary interpretations of evolutionary theory: 'Stella's Sea' and the novels of Anita Brookner

Sally-Ann Jones

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

[Truncated] The exegesis concerns the Darwinian notions that form a central consideration of ‘Stella’s Sea’ and Anita Brookner’s oeuvre. Brookner is overtly preoccupied with popular Darwinian notions of survival. Brookner’s London is depicted in her twenty-four novels as a ‘jungle’ city where instinct rules. Those who depend on moral education rather than rapacious instinct – among them the writing protagonists – find that they are ‘unviable’ and doomed to a form of extinction. Just over two hundred years since the birth of Charles Darwin and one hundred and fifty since the publication of his On the Origin of Species, a popular version of his ideas, embedded in the work of an established literary novelist, bears close examination. In ‘Stella’s Sea’ too, issues of survival, empathy, endurance and creativity provide momentum for the narrative.

Tim Flannery’s latest work, Here on Earth, is central to the discussion as Flannery posits contrasting evolutionary theories as equally necessary for the survival of the planet: James Lovelock’s hopeful Gaian theory and Peter Ward’s more sombre Medean theory of the planetary future. I argue that Brookner’s view, like Darwin’s, aligns with the latter while it is possible to interpret my novel, ‘Stella’s Sea’, as allied to the former.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2010

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