July 31, 2005

A possible title for the shopping cart...

...and an interesting contender for curriculum when we get to high school biology:

Madame Bovary's Ovaries: A Darwinian Look at Literature by the father-daughter team of David P. Barash and Nanelle R. Barash. He's a psychology professor and zoologist at the University of Washington and she's about to start her junior year at Swarthmore, and their premise is that the heroes and heroines of the Great Books illuminate not just the human condition but human nature, and as such are "as much a product of evolution as they are the result of the genius of their creators," as radio host Anthony Germain put it this morning on CBC Radio's "Sunday Edition" show. Or, as the Barashes write in the opening lines of Ovaries, "Othello isn't just a story about a jealous guy. Huckleberry Finn isn't just a rebellious, headstrong kid. Madame Bovary isn't just a horny married woman."

Barash pere et fille don't argue that biology is everything, but they apparently provide a lively argument for the fact that it's a useful and valid perspective. No, the idea's not an incredible revelation, but it's supposedly all wrapped up in one neat, amusing package, which I always appreciate. And of course I also like the idea of a generous helping of literature with my science.

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