Customer Review

2.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent book, error-laded edition. Better available on line, 1 Sep 2013
This review is from: Autobiographies (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
The previous reviewers are too kind in grading this volume, perhaps because unaware of the alternatives available. This edition completely misdescribes Emma's religious views and the impact that religion would have had on the Darwins' marriage. I have just come across the 1958 Collins edition, edited and annotated by Nora Barlow (their grand-daughter), and available at [...] , which is far superior. For example, as Barlow tells us, Emma wished to suppress the passage ending "damnable doctrine" because she thought it no loger represented Christianity; a fact that totally changes the complexion of this passage from what this edition's introduction alleges.

Darwin's widow Emma, a few months after Charles's death, annotated this passage as one she did not wish to see published, saying "Nothing can be said too severe upon the doctrine of everlasting punishment for disbelief--but very few now wd. call that 'Christianity.'" Emma was a Unitarian, and would also, at that time, have had the strongest possible reasons to reject this doctrine, but rather optimistically regarded it as a thing of the past. This is explained in a footnote supplied by Nora Barlow, Darwin's grand-daughter, in the on-line edition. The editors of the Penguin Classics edition, although familiar with Barlow's, ignore the information in this footnote and thus both here and elsewhere, end up misinterpreting their subject.
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