Charles Darwin’s “Scientific Wit”: Incongruity, Species Fixity & The Nonsense of Looking

1 University of Roehampton.

Abstract

Critics have often noted Darwin’s enthusiastic curiosity (Beer, Levine, Amigoni, Schmitt, Browne) in the Journal of Researches (1839)—particularly its “intensely libidinous” nature (Beer)—but his “strange antics” and numerous instances of “amusement” have been treated as little more than biographical gloss, or charming digressions on the way to a much larger story. But re-reading these understatedly comic episodes through the interpretive prism of incongruity produces a new set of emphases; and intellectual and affective affinities.