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The Story Undone

The Story Undone

(p.56) Chapter Two The Story Undone
Novel Science
Adelene Buckland
University of Chicago Press

Walter Scott's influence over geologists and their work was so profound that Charles Darwin himself read and re-read Scott's novels “until they could be read no more.” At this time, the study of geology was threatened by biblical literalists and by the discredited philosophy of Hutton and Werner. Geology would have to rewrite the story of the earth in a newly credible form. Editorials and quarterlies were used as publishing venues for these scientists. The Quarterly Review and the Edinburgh Review both provided places for literary gossip and debate. This chapter chronicles the revision of the earth's story through the efforts of these learned men, all influenced by their imaginative and cultural identification with Scott. This provided them with a crucial strategy for this process of scientific self-definition, and helped give form to their new vision of the earth.

Keywords:   Walter Scott, Charles Darwin, study of geology, cosmologies of biblical literalists, story of the earth, Quarterly Review, Edinburgh Review, new vision of the earth, Hutton, Werner

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