The Literary Evolution of Mary Elizabeth Braddon: A Study of the Darwinian Vision in the Doctor's Wife and Other Novels


Morris, Ruth


University of Aberdeen Author of Mary Elizabeth Braddon and the Jewish Question and Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Yorkshire

This work is a comparative reading of Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s The Doctor’s Wife (1864) with its source text, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857). The study argues that the geotheories prevalent in England and France at the time each of the respective novels was written offer compelling reasons to understand why the two novels diverge so dramatically. There is a consideration of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and Georges Cuvier’s work in catastrophism. The focus of the discussion is on Braddon’s work with Flaubert’s novel being used to show the points of contrast.

The study considers how Braddon's novel is an anglicized adaptation of the French novel and how Braddon changes her work in order to make it appealing to an English audience. This is examined by reading the novel through a variety of different contexts, including the political, the legal, and the medical, as science is only one of the strands through which the novel reflects English notions of geotheory. In addition to studying The Doctor’s Wife, there are also references from 51 of Braddon’s other novels and collections to consider the evolutionary strand throughout her works.

Literature, Literary History, British Literature, English Literature, Victorian Literature, Nineteenth-Century Studies, European Studies, Women's Studies, French Literature, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Gustave Flaubert, Charles Darwin, Georges Cuvier, Catastrophism, Evolution, Cross-Cultural Studies, Identity, Literary Theory
Release Date: 
November 1, 2017
Hardcover: 978-1680530520
Trim Size: 
6 x 9

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