• Dreaming of islands: individuality and utopian desire in post-Darwinian literature

    Author(s):
    Niall Sreenan (see profile)
    Date:
    2017
    Subject(s):
    Comparative literature, Darwinism, Deleuze, Island studies, Utopian literature
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Aldous Huxley, H. G. Wells, Michel Houellebecq, Samuel Butler, utopia
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6T727F9T
    Abstract:
    This paper conducts an exploration of the post-Darwinian literary and philosophical imaginary through the topos of the island. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze's philosophical reflections on the nature of geographical islands and their psychic function as fantasies of transcendence, I argue that the island takes on new significance in a post-Darwinian world by offering an image of human independence that is unavailable under the regime of biological evolution. Through comparative readings of Michel Houellebecq’s "The Possibility of an Island", Aldous Huxley’s "Island", Samuel Butler’s "Erewhon", and H.G. Wells’ "The Island of Dr Moreau", instigated by the critical apparatus developed in my reading of Deleuze, I establish the existence of a genealogy of post-Darwinian narratives in which the island facilitates a specifically utopian dream of individual autonomy, which is bound up with the ideology of capitalism. Taken together, I argue, these works emphasise the importance and complex position of the island in the post-Darwinian political imaginary. In these works, islands neither allow for simplistic affirmations of such utopian, capitalist fantasies of human sovereignty nor deterministic pessimism, but explore critically these ideas as they co-exist in tension.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
    Share this:

    Downloads

    Item Name:pdf isjsreenandarwinismindividualityutopia.pdf
     Download View in browser
    Activity: Downloads: 219