Her what?!

18 Jul

For my first installment of “What’s on my nightstand?” I’d like to share a book with a great title.

Madame Bovary’s Ovaries: A Darwinian Look at Literature

Oh yes, classic novels interpreted through the lens of science.

The book was written by a father-daughter team: David P. Barash and Nanelle R. Barash.  Dad is an evolutionary psychologist and, at the time of publication, his daughter was an undergraduate student.

It’s disclosure time.  I am a Christian who believes God created the world in six days.  Soooo I’m not buying into Darwin’s theory.  But, what I’ve read so far in Madame Bovary’s Ovaries (the intro and one chapter) has been interesting.

Each chapter focuses on a different subject commonly found in literature: jealousy, love, family relationships, etc.  Each chapter also uses examples from literature to support the evolutionary argument.  Or maybe it’s that evolutionary theory is explaining the classic literature?  The chapter titled “Madame Bovary’s Ovaries” discusses “The Biology of Adultery”.  There’s another chapter titled “The Key to Jane Austen’s Heart: What Women Want, and Why”.

Here’s what the authors have to say about their work.

“Our basic premise is simple enough, although oddly revolutionary at the same time: that people are biological creatures and that as such they share a universal, evolved human nature.  Add to this our second basic principle: that evolutionary psychology, a decidedly nonfiction science, has been discovering why human beings behave as they do, and that it offers a raft of refreshing, rewarding, challenging insights into the world of fiction no less than that of fact.”

Madame Bovary’s Ovaries… it’s one of the books on my nightstand.


Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Madame Bovary


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3 responses to “Her what?!

  1. Ruth Lopez (

    July 18, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Evolutionary nature? It’s a sin nature, and it did not evolve. People have been this same way since the beginning of their existence. Yep! Sounds like psychology.

    • Christine

      July 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm

      I agree. Jealousy, broken relationships, rage, etc… seem like a result of a fallen world to me.

  2. Christina Joy

    July 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I still hold that one of them came up with the title and then tried to figure out a way to write a book around it.

    Okay, maybe not, but their premise sure has me raising a skeptical eyebrow, and remembering “there’s nothing new under the sun.”


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