Darwin

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9780718134303: Darwin

This biography embraces the entire scope of Victorian science, religion and society in its panoramic sweep. It puts the man and his science back into context, posing the question of how such a stickler for respectability as Charles Darwin could not only rock the scientific establishment, but construct a theory that threatened the fabric of society in the 1830s, when England teetered close to revolution? The authors explore the fiery debates during Darwin's student days in Edinburgh, his drunken revelries in prostitute-ridden Cambridge, sobering up on the "Beagle" and his clandestine work on evolution in London before fleeing to rural Kent.

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About the Author:

Adrian Desmond is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Biology Department at University College London. He has written numerous books on evolution and Victorian science.

James Moore is a reader in history of science and technology at the Open University.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A sweeping biography in which Desmond (The Ape's Reflexion, 1979, etc.) and Moore (The Post-Darwinian Controversies--not reviewed) illustrate not only the familiar Darwinian thesis that life evolves--that it depends on an interplay of nature and culture and of inherited and acquired traits--but also the contemporary thesis that all science is in some way autobiographical. On a personal level, the authors say, Darwin developed from a pleasure-loving descendant of doctors and industrialists into an adventurer who undertook a five-year voyage around the world, and then into a recluse, a mad scientist racked by a mysterious illness, possibly psychogenic in origin, ruefully observing in his ten children the weaknesses he believed they had inherited by his marrying his first cousin. Professionally, Darwin was an observer and collector, interested in geology and zoology, famous in his own day for his tireless study of barnacles, worm castings, and pigeons, reluctant to theorize or to affirm the principles of evolution that had been evident to his grandfather Erasmus and were confirmed by most of the scientific community. Placing Darwin in context, Desmond and Moore demonstrate how social and political forces (the role of Malthus, the political radicals associated with the Westminster Review) contributed to his reading of nature. They also show Darwin participating in the professionalization of science, which developed from a collection of pious, wealthy gentlemen amateurs into various specialized and secularized disciplines with their own hierarchies and competition. Longer and more wide-ranging than John Bowlby's Charles Darwin (1991), this neglects Darwin's major strength: his own powerful, vivid, and imaginative prose. While valuable for the insights it offers on the age, it is not a substitute for Darwin's own autobiography and journals. (Fifty-six pages of photographs and drawings--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Desmond, Adrian J., Moore, James Richard
Published by Michael Joseph Ltd (1991)
ISBN 10: 0718134303 ISBN 13: 9780718134303
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