Bodily Beauty, Socialist Evolution, and William Morris’s News from Nowhere
William Morris's News from Nowhere describes a utopian future containing an improved and beautified British race, a detail in the text which is best explained by placing the novel within the context of the evolutionary scientific theory produced within Moriss's late 19th-century socialist circle. Examination of scientific discussions in the socialist periodicals Commonweal and Justice shows evolution and "the survival of the fittest" to be importantly integrated into the group's socialist theories and reveals theory project of articulating a socialist evolutionary theory whose roots can be traced to Engels. These writers argued for a reinterpretation of Darwin's findings and proposed a new theory of evolution that cohered with socialist political doctrine. Like many other socialist writers in Morris's circles, his views on evolution seek to denaturalize capitalist competition and class struggle and replace these with socialsit cooperation as the next natural stage of human evolution. While evolution is a minor aspect of Morris's novel, examination of socialist evolutionary science offers key insight into late 19th-century British socialism.
Kuskey, Jessica. Spring 2011. “Bodily Beauty, Socialist Evolution, and William Morris’s News from Nowhere.” Nineteenth-Century Prose 38(1): 147-82.
William Morris, News from Nowhere, Victorian literature, Utopian literature, British Socialism, Evolutionary theory