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Darwin's BardsBritish and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution$
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John Holmes

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780748639403

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748639403.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 03 March 2021

Love and Sex

Love and Sex

(p.185) 7 Love and Sex
Darwin's Bards

John Holmes

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines the implications of the fact that humans are animals for how they think about love and sexual desire. Constance Naden's finest achievement as a comic poet is the series of four poems grouped together under the title ‘Evolutional Erotics’. These four poems both parody and probe the evolutionary accounts of sexual desire. The power of sexual selection is in the hands of the women. Edna St Vincent Millay's sonnet draws attention to the discrepancy between the idealistic language of love and the reality that romantic relationships are prone to the vicissitudes of everyday life. George Meredith's agonising analysis of the collapse of a marriage, Modern Love, is described. It then considers Thom Gunn's The Man with Night Sweats. For Meredith, Millay, and Gunn it is a fundamental implication of Darwinism that all human desire falls by definition within the scope of human nature.

Keywords:   sexual desire, Constance Naden, Evolutional Erotics, Edna St Vincent Millay, George Meredith, Modern Love, Thom Gunn, Darwinism

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