The Science of Character: Human Objecthood and the Ends of Victorian Realism is an important study of the relationships among sciences, novels, and theories of character in the Victorian period, with implications for how we might better understand connections among literature, the sciences, and theory in our own moment. Brilmyer begins The Science of Character by noting that in 1843, John Stuart Mill proposed a new science—“Ethology, or the Science of character” (1)—which would investigate how character was formed through the influence of circumstances and milieu. Brilmyer argues that though this science never emerged in the form that Mill had imagined, it was taken up and developed by a series of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century novelists, including George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Olive Schreiner. These novelists shared a philosophical commitment to what Brilmyer calls “dynamic materialism,” which presumes that “reality consists not of static, individuated things but rather forces that...

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