Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Voyage to Remember

On this day in 1859, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, which immediately sold out its initial print run. By 1872, the book had run through six editions, and it became one of the most influential books of modern times.

"How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man! how short his time! and consequently how poor will his products be, compared with those accumulated by nature during whole geological periods. Can we wonder, then, that nature’s productions should be far “truer” in character than man’s productions; that they should be infinitely better adapted to the most complex conditions of life, and should plainly bear the stamp of far higher workmanship?"
--from On the Origin of Species

One of the most influential books published in the nineteenth century, Darwin’s The Origin of Species is also that most unusual phenomenon, an altogether readable discussion of a scientific subject. On its appearance in 1859 it was immediately recognized by enthusiasts and detractors alike as a work of the greatest importance: its revolutionary theory of evolution by means of natural selection provoked a furious reaction that continues to this day. The Origin of Species is here published together with Darwin’s earlier Voyage of the ‘Beagle.’ This 1839 account of the journeys to South America and the Pacific islands that first put Darwin on the track of his remarkable theories derives an added charm from his vivid description of his travels in exotic places and his eye for the piquant detail. This Everyman's Library edition has an introduction by Richard Dawkins.


Brian Joseph said...

This is such am important important book that I have not read. I should as it is so important in terms of science and history.

The Dawkins introduction sounds interesting too.

James said...


This is not only important but it is also a great read. Charles Darwin wrote in an elegant readable style that makes reading this book a joy.

Maria Behar said...

This is one of those books that I have been meaning to read for the longest time, and just never have.

I really don't see why the theory of evolution is so controversial; I don't see it as incompatible with creationism at all. Why couldn't God have created everything through evolution? I once asked a Jesuit priest what the Catholic Church says about the matter, and he replied something to the effect of the above. It seemed like a very logical answer to me, so I readily accepted it. After all, the Bible is not a science textbook. It explains many things in similes, metaphors, and even myths, at times.

I am especially intreested in this edition because I'm curious about the Dawkins introduction.

James said...


I think your thoughts about the compatibility of the Church and Evolution make sense.
I value Darwin's writing as much as for its style and readability as for the ideas which are seminal.