Darwin’s Footprint

Cultural Perspectives on Evolution in Greece (1880-1930s)
$90.00 / €79.00 / £71.00
$30.95 / €26.95 / £22.95
Publication date: 
340 pages including 15 black-and-white, and color illustrations

Darwin’s Footprint examines the impact of Darwinism in Greece, investigating how it has shaped Greece in terms of its cultural and intellectual history, and in particular its literature.

The book demonstrates that in the late 19th to early 20th centuries Darwinism and associated science strongly influenced celebrated Greek literary writers and other influential intellectuals, which fueled debate in various areas such as ‘man’s place in nature’, eugenics, the nature-nurture controversy, religion, as well as class, race and gender.

In addition, the study reveals that many of these individuals were also considering alternative approaches to these issues based on Darwinian and associated biological post-Darwinian ideas. Their concerns included the Greek “race” or nation, its culture, language and identity; also politics and gender equality.

Zarimis’s monograph devotes considerable space to Xenopoulos (1867-1951), notable novelist, journalist and playwright.

List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgements

Chapter One. Introduction
Xenopoulos: Case Study
Evolutionary Theories
Social Implications of Evolutionism
Darwinism in Literature and Criticism
Darwinian Themes in International Literature
General Reception and Impact of Darwinism in Greece
Future Direction of the Greek Race: Eugenics and Post-Darwinian Discourse

Chapter Two. The Darwinian Impact on Modern Greek Writers
“Voltaire” and “Dock”
Emmanuel Roidis
Kostis Palamas
Nikos Kazantzakis
Alexandros Papadiamantis
Appendix. Poem: Τόπο αλλάζει and Its English Translation
Poem: Δαρβίνος and Its English Translation

Chapter Three. Darwinian reflections: Children’s Guidance
Science and Positivism
Heldreich and Gradualism
The Gender Divide
Science and Religion
Physiognomies and Expressions

Chapter Four. A Re-Reading of Rich and poor: It’s All in the Eyes
Literary Criticism, the “Note” and Prologue
Physiognomy, Expressions and Natural Selection
The Eyes ― Mirror of the Soul

Chapter Five. Metamorphoses of Woman: dangerous fantasies
Xenopoulos’ Comments
Literary Criticism
Transforming Tereza

Chapter Six. New Woman, Degeneration/Regeneration and The Descent of Man
“The three-sided woman”
“Τhe night of degeneration”

Addendum: The Female Sex’s Handbook

"Th e author has successfully shown that Darwinism exerted significant influence on cultural and intellectual history of Greece, and especially on its literature. The book reveals that renowned authors were not just reacting to Darwin’s teachings, but were also trying to devise their own approaches to these issues, based on Darwinian and post-Darwinian thought. In her narrative, Zarimis also places these developments in Greek intellectual history into a wider context of international scholars’ community’s response to influence of Darwin’s ideas."
“Maria Zarimis’ book is a thorough and in-depth analysis of how mainstream Western scientific ideas found their way into the planning of the modern Greek society through the intermediation of literature. In this sense it strongly contributes to various academic fields, expanding from literary studies and history of science to social history and cultural studies. Furthermore, it contributes to the discussion of travelling concepts and of the role intellectuals hold in this process, while at the same time sheds light onto the multiple ways transnational history is formed.”
"Although Darwin’s name will conjure up in most readers’ minds a familiar assortment of venerable historic figures, Zarimis immediately indicates in Darwin’s Footprint that her subjects will not be any of these old friends. Indeed, her translated titles and quotations appear to be, in almost all cases, the only existing access, for those lacking Greek language skills, to this fascinating area of Greek scientific and literary culture. Her goal is ‘to unveil how Darwinism formed a part of the Greek intellectual and cultural life during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’. Zarimis convincingly develops what she sees as the previously uneven analyses of Darwinian and eugenic perspectives on Greek literary culture in this period. The book progressively narrows in scope, first situating Darwin and evolutionary theory as debated by Greek literati at the turn of the century, before moving on to Zarimis’s primary focus, the prolific author Grigorios Xenopoulos, and his... more
"The book is a highly valuable one for students of literature and science, both with and without Greek language skills. Studies of Darwinian culture are dominated by Anglo-American subjects, and so alternative approaches, made possible by critics, like Zarimis, with the multilinguistic abilities to tap underutilised areas, can only be of benefit to the current literature. Works such as this provide an eye-opening view to unique and captivating material that scholars have barely yet touched."
"Maria Zarimis’ book raises a wide range of issues related to the influence of Darwinian thought and Darwinism, but also of biosciences, over Greek intellectuals and novelists. A critical reading of her book may contribute to the discussion on new perspectives for research on the cultural transmission of evolutionary and bioscientific thoughts into Greek material culture. "
“The original and significant contribution this book makes to scholarship in its field derives from the fact that so little has been written, so far, about the influence of Darwin’s writings and Darwinism on Greek literary and social culture. Thus the manuscript opens up an area of study that has been sadly neglected in Greek cultural life.”