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The Quotable Darwin

Popular Science
A treasure trove of illuminating and entertaining quotations from the legendary naturalist

By: Janet Browne(Editor)

348 pages, 6 b/w photos and b/w illustrations

Princeton University Press

Hardback | Nov 2017 | #236325 | ISBN-13: 9780691169354
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £19.99 $26/€23 approx

About this book

Here is Charles Darwin in his own words – the naturalist, traveler, scientific thinker, and controversial author of On the Origin of Species, the book that shook the Victorian world. Featuring hundreds of quotations carefully selected by world-renowned Darwin biographer Janet Browne, The Quotable Darwin draws from Darwin's writings, letters to friends and family, autobiographical reminiscences, and private scientific notebooks. It offers a multifaceted portrait that takes readers through his youth, the famous voyage of the Beagle, the development of his thoughts about evolution, his gradual loss of religious faith, and the time spent turning his ideas into a well-articulated theory about the natural origin of all living beings – a theory that dangerously included the origin of humans.

The Quotable Darwin also includes many of the key responses to Darwin's ideas from figures across the social spectrum, scientists and nonscientists alike – and criticism too. We see Darwin as an innovative botanist and geologist, an affectionate husband and father, and a lively correspondent who once told his cousin that he liked to play billiards because "it drives the horrid species out of my head". This book gives us an intimate look at Darwin at work, at home, as a public figure, and on his travels.

Complete with a chronology of Darwin's life by Browne, The Quotable Darwin provides an engagingly fresh perspective on a remarkable man who was always thinking deeply about the natural world.

"If anyone ever asks me which figure from history I'd invite to a dinner party, my instant answer will be Charles Darwin. This book of quotations is one long argument for his profundity, warmth, charm, wit, and humanity. Even readers who already know him well will discover something new and delightful here."
– Jonathan Weiner, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Beak of the Finch

"Nobody knows Darwin as Janet Browne does. Her intimate familiarity with the subject shows here in an abundance of well-chosen quotations. Through Darwin's own words, we learn how the aspiring naturalist matured with experience into the scientist whose revolutionary theory on evolution has been described as the greatest intellectual contribution to the nineteenth century. The portrait is vivid and truthful."
– Peter R. Grant, coauthor of 40 Years of Evolution: Darwin's Finches on Daphne Major Island

"An enlightening and entertaining collection of Darwin's thinking on a wonderful diversity of topics, personal and scientific. The Quotable Darwin enables readers to see and understand Darwin in a new way, through his own words and those of his contemporaries. His humor, humility, frustrations, exultations, and more come through nicely in these well-selected quotes."
– James T. Costa, author of Wallace, Darwin, and the Origin of Species


List of Illustrations ix
Preface xi
Acknowledgments xix
Chronology xxiii

Part 1: Early Life and Voyage of the Beagle Foundations 3
The Beagle Voyage 11
Geology 24
Slavery 30
Natural History Collecting 33
Indigenous Peoples 39
Galápagos Archipelago 45

Part 2: Marriage and Scientific Work Notes on Species 53
Marriage 59
A Theory by Which to Work 65
Children 73
Pigeons 80
Barnacles 84
Precursors 90
Independent Discoveries 97

Part 3: Origin of Species On the Origin of Species 107
Species 117
Selection 122
Difficulties 127
Design and Free Will 133
Variation and Heredity 138
Origin of Life 144
Survival of the Fittest 147
Responses to On the Origin of Species 150
Botany 165

Part 4: Mankind Human Origins 173
Race 181
Sexual Selection 185
Morality 190
Intellect 193
Instincts 198
Expression of the Emotions 202
Human Society 207

Part 5: On Himself Religious Belief 217
Health 226
Politics 232
Science 234
Writing 240
Dogs 244
Anti-vivisection 247
Nature 249
Autobiographical 253

Part 6: Friends and Family
Friends and Contemporaries 263
Reflections by His Contemporaries 275
Recollections by His Family 286
Tributes 298
Varia 303

Sources 307
Index 315

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Janet Browne is the Aramont Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. Her books include the acclaimed two-volume biography of Darwin, Charles Darwin: Voyaging and Charles Darwin: The Power of Place. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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