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Extinction and Progress in Charles Kingsley’s Alton Locke (1850)

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

Charles Kingsley’s Alton Locke (1850), written a decade before the publication of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, emphasizes newly-emerging definitions of nature and modern perceptions of the interrelations between the human social system and the ecosystem. In so doing, the modern conceptions of the natural environment which the novel highlights, shape a utopian model for a more democratic society. As this paper points out, by using environmental metaphors, Kingsley questions human nature and the potential of the environment to change it. As a result, his depiction of natural ecosystems, though charged with ideology and the weight of conservative discourse, is progressive, inviting humans to change society—and themselves in the process.

Affiliations: 1: Centre Alexandre Koyré, UMR 8560 - CNRS - EHESS – MNHN 27, rue Damesme, 4e étage, 75013 Paris, France,


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