“Madame Bovary’s Ovaries” Is Where Darwinian Evolution Meets Classic Literature
Every university has a visible divide between the liberal arts students and the STEM majors, which can usually be seen on Fridays where there isn’t a BA candidate to be found. But I think Madame Bovary’s Ovaries: A Darwinian Look at Literature can bridge that divide. Authors David P. Barash and Nanelle R. Barash bring together the worlds of psychology, evolutionary biology, and literature to ask important questions like:
- How to make Rhett give a damn.
- What do Jane Austen’s women really want?
- What’s with Portnoy and Caulfield’s parental issues?
- Why the heck do we like all our heroes to be orphans?
It’s a fun book and comes at the problem of literary tropes with a fresh perspective that weaves together the narrative of our entire species, from our tribal pasts to the structural beginnings of civilizations, and how we went about portraying ourselves in art and literature.
If you’re a purist for fiction novels, Madame Bovary’s Ovaries will be a smooth transition to non-fiction, and if you spent most of your life groaning through lit classes, this book will let you see them in a new light of shared genes, hypergamy, and internal fertilization as a means to patriarchal churlishness.