In 2008, having discovered several years earlier a fossil of the transitional creature Tiktaalik roseae, the “fish with hands,” the evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin published a national bestseller titled Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body. In 1877, Samuel Butler wrote that we and “the fish of fifty million years back . . . are one single living being”: just as “the octogenarian is one single living being with the infant from which he has grown,” argued Butler, so too “the fish has lived himself into manhood [sic], not as we live out our little life, living, and living, and living until we die, but living by pulsations . . . living so far, and after a certain time going into a new body, and throwing off the old” (127). While Shubin’s and Butler’s understandings of the history of life...
Modernist Life Histories: Biological Theory and the Experimental Bildungsroman by Daniel Aureliano Newman
Charles M. Tung is professor of English at Seattle University, where he teaches courses on twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature, temporal scale, and representations of racial anachronism. He is the author of Modernism and Time Machines (2019). His current book project is on big clocks, the expansion of temporal scales, and ethnofuturism.
Charles M. Tung; Modernist Life Histories: Biological Theory and the Experimental Bildungsroman by Daniel Aureliano Newman. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 March 2022; 68 (1): 101–111. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-9668923
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