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On the Origin of Species (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Charles Darwin , Gillian Beer
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
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Book Description

13 Nov 2008 0199219222 978-0199219223 Revised edition
'can we doubt ... that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind?'

In the Origin of Species (1859) Darwin challenged many of the most deeply held beliefs of the Western world. His insistence on the immense length of the past and on the abundance of life-forms, present and extinct, dislodged man from his central position in creation and called into question the role of the Creator. He showed that new species are achieved by natural selection, and that absence of plan is an inherent part of the evolutionary process.

Darwin's prodigious reading, experimentation, and observations on his travels fed into his great work, which draws on material from the Galapagos Islands to rural Staffordshire, from English back gardens to colonial encounters. The present edition provides a detailed and accessible discussion of his theories and adds an account of the immediate responses to the book on publication. The resistances as well as the enthusiasms of the first readers cast light on recent controversies, particularly concerning questions of design and descent.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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On the Origin of Species (Oxford World's Classics) + Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology (Oxford World's Classics) + The Island of Dr Moreau (Penguin Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; Revised edition edition (13 Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199219222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199219223
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This interesting publication may help to cut misinterpretation and is a useful resource for anyone who wishes to re-read Origin illuminated by the perspectives of a modern biologist."
--Biologist, 1 November 2009 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Jim Endersby's major new scholarly edition debunks some of the myths that surround Darwin's book, and expores how it was originally written, published and read. Endersby provides a new, up-to-date and very readable introduction to this classic text and a level of scholarly apparatus unmatched by any other edition. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glorious edition of a masterful book 24 April 2009
By Jason Mills VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This large (and attractively cheap!) book is instantly appealing, crying out to be flipped through. There are hundreds of photographs and drawings of animals, plants, people and places, and portraits of Darwin and his peers. There are also many text panels livening up the main read with extracts from Darwin's "Voyage Of The Beagle", and his autobiography, and the volume of his life and letters produced by his son Francis. These panels tend to form an unrelated 'sub-plot' in each chapter, adding colour, context and interest.

Darwin's text is still one of the world's most important books and I was delighted to find his prose so graceful, his tone so calmly intelligent, and his intellect so sprawlingly compendious. His book went through six editions in his lifetime, during which he tinkered with the text to answer his critics; this version wisely presents the original and uncluttered first edition text. Although I understood evolution by natural selection well enough before (Dawkins fan), I had not realised the degree of detail and care that Darwin brought to his exposition, and the amount of evidence he marshals from so many directions (embryology, geology, geography, taxonomy...). He also anticipates his critics by laying out what he regards as the problems for the theory, as well as its strength. The work will be a tad dry for some readers' tastes (I took a month over it), but it is a quiet joy.

Quammen's introduction explores Darwin's life and puts his achievement in the context of the time. Included as an appendix is Darwin's introduction to the third edition, in which he diligently credits all those writers who had approached the same theory before him (including Wallace of course). There's also a biological glossary and a substantial index.
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83 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great value 16 Jan 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a "coffee table" sized book i.e. on the large side which is a bit of a shock if you are expecting something you can carry easily. However the plus side is the fantastic colour plates and the addition of supporting material from the Beagle voyage, Darwin's autobiography and journals. A book to enjoy whilst sitting comfortably at home rather than on public transport.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful! 7 Feb 2009
This is the most beautiful edition of Darwin's Origin of the Species I have come across. With lots of facsimiles of the original book, Darwin's letters and other memorabilia from the original it really adds to the book's content. Highly Recommended
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I was expecting an original copy of the text but with colour illustrations. However, many of the illustrations appear to be unrelated to the text. Also, if you want the background 'DVD Extras' type book, with additional text and letters, then this is for you. A hefty tome - more coffee table than bedtime reading.

Personally I want more original, less 'value add' - but then again, I never watch the DVD extras.

Also the paper was slightly undulating as if it had become damp then dried out. Can't complain for the price though.

Lots to love about this book for the price.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A jewel of a book 9 Mar 2010
A wonderful book, both in its presentation and in its content. Basically, the book is a reprint of The Origin of Species. I found this particularly refreshing, in the sense that, originally, I thought that bits and parts of it will be displayed, or even a commentary. But here we have the real thing presented in a way that makes this publication a jewel of a book.
However, it is also much more than that. An interesting feature is that it also includes many extracts from Darwin's other writings, including the Beagle notes, which provide a valuable background to the main text. Then there are the illustrations, which indeed give the whole publication a breath of its own. The artwork is beautiful, and the interest it attracts is riveting.
This is not simply a reprint of Darwin's famous book. It is a collector's item; a special way to celebrate and commemorate that ground-breaking and revolutionary work which changed the lives of all of us.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book 3 Feb 2009
A beautifully presented book. The original text, in a good sized font, is accompanied and enriched by illustrations and excerpts from original journals.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two beautiful things... 9 Jun 2011
This book has been produced on the premise that two beautiful things, when put together, make something even more beautiful, just like wine and cheese, a sail on the sea, the singer and a song, a dove on its leafy branch, a man and a woman. Right? Wrong! Our lives are just not that simple as a few seconds further thought will confirm. How about olives and custard, a modern highway beside a country cottage, an opera singer bugling a rock song, a bickering pair of ex-partners?

More than others, I would expect those in the world of art and literature to understand that a beautiful object becomes more beautiful through its harmonious relation to others. In a partnership, each must speak to the other--strikingly, wittily, subtly, shockingly, artistically--in one way or another but the conversation must take place and it must engage. Sadly in this edition, the powerful words of Darwin's Origin of Species and the illustrations--a series of stunning images and quotations taken from his other books, notably The Voyage of the Beagle and The Autobiography of Charles Darwin--do not speak to one-another at all. They lie in stark isolation on the same page, a conglomeration of words and images, as scrambled as a dog's breakfast.

To take just one example, Chapter 1 on "domestication" is full of Darwin's observations and explanations about breeding of domestic animals--pigeons, dogs, cattle, domestic hens. It could so easily have been illustrated by contemporary drawings and paintings, many by Darwin himself, of domestic breeds. What do we get? Tropical forests, HMS Beagle, Captain Fitzroy, flamingos, a photo of ants and extracts from the Voyage of the Beagle. It is the same throughout the book.
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