Evolution, idealism, and individualism in May Kendall's comic verse

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Abstract

Kendall's poetry is frequently read with a focus on its critique of the complacency of human anthropocentric interpretation of Darwinian evolution. The argument in this article, however, is that the tendency to focus on Darwinism in isolation has obscured the breadth of Kendall's interests. The passing reference to Kant and Hegel in a poem such as "Lay of the Trilobite" is an example of her sustained consideration of one of the most prominent intellectual trends in late-Victorian Britain: the revival of idealist philosophy. Kendall's comic verse encapsulates and interrogates the connections between several important aspects of late-Victorian culture. Her thinking about idealism informs and is informed by her views on Darwinism, and both in turn constitute parts of the ethical foundation of her belief in social reform.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-451
JournalEnglish Literature in Transition 1880 - 1920
Volume63
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2020

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