The authors bring to life Darwin’s reckless student days in Cambridge, his epic five-year voyage on the Beagle, and his grueling struggle to develop his theory of . Darwin: The life of a tormented evolutionist. By Adrian Desmond and James Moore. New York: Warner Books. pp. ISBN 0‐‐‐2. $35 (cloth ). As part of the celebration of Darwin’s bicentenary, we invite you to join us reading what is considered by many to be the definitive biography.
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The other is to make those enigmas less mysterious by relating them to his social and political environment. Their method fits their fo On the whole the book is a marvellous success, though its richness causes it to raise new enigmas as well as settling old ones.
What is the main enigma?
And what is the main explanation, offered by this book? It contains remarkably little analysis of its subject matter.
Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist by Adrian J. Desmond
Except for the introduction, authorial comments are thin on the ground, either in the form of moral or intellectual judgments, generalizations, or scrutiny of secondary sources.
Sometimes this lack of analysis is the opposite of enlightening. For example, we never get a clear explanation of why Darwin, the gentle white-supremist, could upbraid his own son about the evils of slavery. We know that Darwin disagreed with Owen: The writing helps a lot here. In this story, events move swiftly on the back of snappy prose.
Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist
Instead of a portrait we get a gallery of sketches: Darwin the heartbroken father, the calculating suitor; the grumpy recluse, the jolly companion; the impressionable youth, the grand old genius; the hater of Owen, the magnanimous rival of Wallace; the brave man of science, going forward alone; the timid Darwin, hanging on the approval of friends.
Here are more enigmas. Desmond and Moore let them hang. If this is what the authors want us to grasp then the book is an outstanding success, even if it leaves evolktionist of the interpretative work in the hands of the reader.
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Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist
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