evolutionary lit crit
October 25, 2007 1:11 PM Subscribe
Toward a consilient study of literature
posted by shotgunbooty (134 comments total)
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(pdf) by Steven Pinker.
A critical review of Gottschall and Wilson's, "The Literary Animal: Evolution and the Nature of Narrative"
The intro excerpted:
People tell stories. all over the world, and probably for as long as
they have existed, people invent characters and recount their ficti-
tious exploits. This apparent frivolity is no small matter in human affairs.
if one were to tally the number of hours and resources spent in enjoying
fiction in all its forms—story-telling, pretend play, myths and legends,
fairy tales, novels, short stories, epic poems, television, movies, theater,
opera, ballads, narrative paintings, jokes, comics, skits, video games, and
pornography—it would surely account for a major portion of people’s
time and a major portion of modern economic activity. Considering the
costs in time, foregone opportunities to engage in practical pursuits,
and the dangers of confusing fantasy with reality, our longing to lose
ourselves in fiction is a big puzzle for anyone seeking to understand
human beings. all the more so from a Darwinian perspective, as one
might have expected natural selection to have weeded out any inclina-
tion to engage in imaginary worlds rather than the real one.