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Reviews

"This is an outstanding piece of work: original, boldly conceived, deeply researched, analytically subtle, and consistently compelling. Griffiths takes a strikingly different approach to the connection between literary studies and the history of science, exploring their shared intellectual and rhetorical medium in the emergent discourse of comparative historicism."

"A 'missing link' connects the speculative poetry of Erasmus Darwin to his grandson Charles's Origin of Species: the rise of comparative historicism. So runs the eye-opening, compelling argument of Devin Griffiths's The Age of Analogy. Walter Scott's historically minded novels and Darwin's orchids have never seemed so intimately linked!"

"The Age of Analogy does nothing less than create a new way of thinking about the construction of historical and scientific narrative in the long nineteenth century. Griffiths' demonstration of the crucial role played by the humanization of analogical method in the historical novel brilliantly succeeds in tracing the tropological origin of The Origin of Species. More than this, it allows the relations between literary and scientific narrative to be revalued, and the critical periodization of 'Romantic' and 'Victorian' to be remodeled. A remarkable book."

"An enormously ambitious book, moving from Erasmus to Charles Darwin, The Age of Analogy expertly handles several disciplinary discourses. Building on the distinction between 'analogy' and 'comparison,' Griffiths demonstrates how science and literature mutually influence each other, provides exhaustive new readings of Scott and Eliot, and makes important contributions to the histories of literature and science."

"The Age of Analogy is a tour de force. With an argument both brilliant and moving, Griffiths shows how nineteenth-century writers and scientists created a comparative historicism that shapes modernity as we know it today. Most valuable is his startlingly fresh take on the ties that bind literature and science together. A stunning achievement."

"In The Age of Analogy, Devin Griffiths squares conceptual circles with enormous erudition and aplomb. Bridging the gap between the two Darwins, he maps the evolution of 'evolution' onto broader shifts from analogical to historical ways of seeing, via illuminating new readings of key literary texts from Scott to Eliot."

"This is an ambitious, insightful book. While many have recognised the importance of analogy in Charles Darwin's thought, Griffiths reconsiders its role in a bold re-thinking of historical comparativism, revaluing both the eighteenth-century work of Erasmus Darwin, as well the Romantic and Victorian writings of Scott and Tennyson. A major contribution."

"[A] serious, detailed, and convincing account with few unexplored avenues. Recommended."

"The Age of Analogy represents a valuable contribution to scholarship on literature and science. Building on the established models of new historicism and of Gillian Beer's foundational work on Darwinism, it nonetheless offers something new by asking researchers in this field to think more carefully about the kinds of historicism that operate both in their own work and in nineteenth-century literary and scientific writing."

"The Age of Analogy is perhaps the most ambitious and important book on the entanglement of nineteenth-century scientific culture and literature to have been written this century—in a field of highly ambitious and truly important books. But it also elucidates the entanglement of nineteenth-century culture with our own, bringing light to contemporary historicist practices, particularly in literary studies."

"For those interested in either of the intertwined histories of literature and science—or in what we might more generously call the intellectual culture of the 1780s through the 1850s—Griffiths' book is both readable and richly rewarding."

"This ambitious work should shape future thinking about historicism, science and literature in the nineteenth century and beyond in new and significant ways. Griffiths deserves to be congratulated on having achieved this and, in the process, on having written some of the best recent criticism on Charles Darwin and George Eliot in particular, which is no mean feat in itself."

"The book is well written and the richness of the study is impressive. It is precisely because of this wide-ranging approach that The Age of Analogy demonstrates so convincingly that, while the scholarship on analogy is not new, Griffiths takes it to another level where he explores events in a pluralist state of time. This, he terms comparative historicism. As such, The Age of Analogy makes a valuable contribution to the humanities and sciences."

"The Age of Analogy promises to transform our understanding of literary and scientific history in the Anthropocene. This is a big, challenging, eloquent book. I cannot recommend it highly enough."

"As Griffiths builds his argument and examines his literary examples, he, in effect, applies the analogical paradigm he theorized in the opening chapters, generating a compelling set of insights into modes of thought that circulated in the first half of the nineteenth century, some of which continue to shape and define our own times. A necessary intervention."

"[A] deeply impressive book."

"Ambitious in its scope and vision and eloquently written, The Age of Analogy is a challenging and thought-provoking study that gives us new and enriching ways to read nineteenth-century intellectual history"

"What is exhilarating about The Age of Analogy is its bold insistence upon the utility of imaginative literary form as an active agent in science, with the power not only to reflect knowledge of the world but to add to it as well."

"A book of enormous erudition, especially for a first book. Great books change how criticism does its business, this happens far more rarely than one might think."

"The Age of Analogy promises to transform our understanding of literary and scientific history in the Anthropocene. This is a big, challenging, eloquent book. I cannot recommend it highly enough."

"Devin Griffith's multifaceted, richly textured The Age of Analogy argues that the nineteenth century saw the emergence of a new mode of engaging with history—'comparative historicism'—that increasingly fostered what Griffiths calls a 'flat' view of temporal existence. Griffith's method exemplifies the same kind of analogical reasoning that his book investigates. In most cases, it does this with remarkable success, furnishing the field of Victorian science and literature with some truly fresh inspiration and insight."

"It is clarifying and invigorating to have a scholar as searching and well-read as Devin Griffiths address the problem of analogy head on. He ambitiously tracks analogy as an evolving mode of thought during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, focusing on analogy as a method central to the emerging field of comparative historicism... The Age of Analogy is an impressive book that refuses to shy away from a topic as daunting as analogy just because it threatens to become unwieldy. Griffiths is unusually generous in the alacrity with which he maps the questions that interest him onto a huge range of scholarly fields, including linguistics, mathematics, publishing history, botany, comparative anatomy, astronomy, and musical theory."

"The Age of Analogy brims with original arguments and demonstrates Griffiths's impressive range and dexterity in a wide variety of fields and discourses."

"Devin Griffiths's excellent The Age of Analogy: Science and Literature between the Darwins makes a compelling case for the importance of literary language to the development of scientific theory and practice... [The Age of Analogy] demonstrates an encyclopedic grasp of everything from set theory to Saussurian semiotics... As Griffiths so masterfully demonstrates, analogy helps us extend our imaginative apprehension of the world's past and present—as well as its possible futures."