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The Voyage of the Beagle: Charles Darwin's Journal of Researches (Classics) Paperback – Abridged, 29 Jun 1989
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When HMS Beagle sailed out of Devonport on 27 December 1831, Charles Darwin was twenty-two and setting off on the voyage of a lifetime. His journal, here reprinted in a shortened form, shows a naturalist making patient observations concerning geology, natural history, people, places and events. Volcanoes in the Galapagos, the Gossamer spider of Patagonia and the Australasian coral reefs - all are to be found in these extraordinary writings. The insights made here were to set in motion the intellectual currents that led to the most controversial book of the "Victorian age: The Origin of Species".
About the Author
Charles Darwin (1809-82) was an evolutionary scientist, best-known for his controversial and ground-breaking work of non-fiction Origin of Species, and for his theories on the survival of the fittest. M.Neve is based at the Wellcome Trust, UCL. He teaches and researches the history of psychiatry and life sciences.
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The book is illustrated.
However, as far as I can tell, most of the illustrations are nothing to do with the text. Several are bizarre and very few are in any way relevant. How did the publisher get away with using them?
However, `the Voyage of the Beagle' is by far the more enjoyable and informative and contains many insights and readable prose. Something must have happened to Darwin after his wonderful five year journey around the world.
I have rarely read two so very different books inn style and attitude by the same author. Indeed, any examination of Darwin's portrait either in sketches, painting or photograph reveals a man not only profoundly ageing but acquiring an expression of increasing gloom. Of course, one might think, as I did, that this was the nature of Victorian Man, at least in terms of a man living in Victorian society.
That society would contrast sharply with the liberal ideas today but then I noticed that Darwin himself had commented on his glum expression saying that people might expect such a man to have few friends. Even his wife, from the few pictures available, appears to have prematurely aged.
Nevertheless, I was struck by the descent of this man into what appeared on view a somewhat morose looking figure. That Darwin's health declined is a well known fact and some suspect that his illness which continued for the rest of his life had origins in his emotional state of mind and therefore sychosomatic.
The Beagle followed a course of exploration which provided Darwin with an opportunity to explore and examine fauna and flora along much of the South American coastline including that of the nearby Falkland Islands and later, of course, his observations on the world famous ground-breaking observations in the Galapagos Islands, for example, two types of Galapagos Lizard; one terrestrial and the other aquatic. He writes:
"I threw one several times as far as I could, into a deep pool left by the retiring tide; but it invariably returned in a direct line to the spot where I stood."
The Beagle sailed farther on to Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, and other islands including Saint Helena in the South Atlantic before, finally, arriving at Falmouth, England and a new beginning in scientific speculation.
Richard Dawking really brings this amazing travel journal by Charles Darwin of his journey to the Galapogos Islands come to live.
I bought the audio book to listen in the car for my long journeys to and from work, but like any fascinating good book, I could not put it down, but hungered for the next episode of this book.
Since then I have listend to this audio book 5 times and every time it is as magical as the first time. Charles Darwins description of his journey is so vivid, that one can imagine being there and this is helped by Richard Dawkings magnificant reading.
This is a fabulous book, by a fabulous author and genius, read by an amazing scientist and devotee of Darwin, Richard Dawking.
I can highly recommend this.
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