3-1 | On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction

Book Review

On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction

Brian Boyd
Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009. References, index. 560 pp. $35.00 cloth. ISBN: 9780674033573

by Robert Fagen

First Paragraph:

Brian Boyd's On the Origin of Stories is consilience at its best. Boyd eschews both critical theory and the grinning gargoyles of many contemporary evolutionary psychologies. For too long, readers have squirmed as theory and cultural critique made a shambles of literary analysis. Rather, Boyd sees science and the humanities as equally orthodox and as mutually supportive. An acknowledged authority on Vladimir Nabokov's life and work, Boyd is well qualified to take a Nabokovian approach to literature. Biological and cultural insights find common ground in this perspective. Like mind and nature in the work of Gregory Bateson, they amount to "a necessary unity."