Infinite Tropics: An Afred Russel Wallace Anthology

Overview

Alfred Russel Wallace’s reputation has been based on the fact that, at the age of thirty-five and stricken with malaria in the Moluccan Islands, he stumbled independently on the theory of natural selection. Andrew Berry’s anthology rescues Wallace’s legacy, showing Wallace to be far more than just the co-discoverer of natural selection. Wallace was a brilliant and wide ranging scientist, a passionate social reformer and a gifted writer. The eloquence that has made his The Malay Archipelago a classic of travel ...
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Overview

Alfred Russel Wallace’s reputation has been based on the fact that, at the age of thirty-five and stricken with malaria in the Moluccan Islands, he stumbled independently on the theory of natural selection. Andrew Berry’s anthology rescues Wallace’s legacy, showing Wallace to be far more than just the co-discoverer of natural selection. Wallace was a brilliant and wide ranging scientist, a passionate social reformer and a gifted writer. The eloquence that has made his The Malay Archipelago a classic of travel writing is a prominent feature too of his extraordinary forward-thinking writing on socialism, imperialism and pacifism. Wallace’s opinions on women’s suffrage, on land reform, on the roles of church and aristocracy in a parliamentary democracy, on publicly funded education—to name a few of the issues he addressed—remain as fresh and as topical today as they were when they were written.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“... an outstanding overview of Wallace’s intellectual world.”—British Journal for the History of Science

“... this collection of [Wallace’s] writing, each section introduced by relevant remarks on Wallace’s thinking at the time, is enthralling.”—New Scientist

“Berry’s anthology of the most important writings ... should be read to appreciate fully the sophistication of Wallace’s biological thought.”—Times Literary Supplement

“Berry’s editorial commentary is succinct, accurate, and generally right to the point, and he has chosen his selections wisely, giving his readers a splendid, if somewhat teasing glimpse of Wallace’s genius.”—Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2002

“In Infinite Tropics, Andrew Berry does a wonderful job of excerpting Wallace’s many writings ... Berry tells this story, ‘one of the most celebrated in the history of science’, beautifully”—Daily Telegraph

Library Journal
This anthology of excerpts from the basic writings of Alfred Russel Wallace (l823-l913) introduces the reader to his pioneering explorations in natural science and his critical insights into social issues. He is best remembered for codiscovering, independently of Charles Darwin, the mechanism of natural selection to explain the process of organic evolution. Yet as an extensive traveler, astute observer, and avid collector, Wallace also made valuable contributions to entomology, ornithology, biogeography, and anthropology particularly as a result of his long-term research in the Amazon and Malaysia. He focused on insect camouflage and mimicry (especially in butterflies) and described numerous life forms, from the wild orangutan to the birds of paradise. However, after embracing both evolutionary teleology and theistic spiritualism, Wallace claimed that the human species is unique in this dynamic universe. Although he remains in Darwin's shadow, Wallace was an important naturalist during the Victorian age. Edited by Berry, a research associate at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, this excellent book on Wallace's life and thought is recommended for large academic and public libraries. [Coming in September from Oxford University Press is Michael Shermer's In Darwin's Shadow: The Life and Science of Alfred Russel Wallace. Ed.] H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859846520
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/2002
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Berry is a research associate at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. He contributes to, among others, the London Review of Books, Nature, Slate and The New York Observer.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Preface xi
Editor's Note xv
A Biographical Sketch 1
"A very dull, ignorant, and uneducated person" 2
Journeys 9
Intellectual Life: "Satisfaction, Retrospection and Work" 16
Domestic Life: "Gardening and rural walks" 19
Anthology 27
Science 29
Evolution 31
Beginnings 31
The "Sarawak Law" 32
The "Ternate Paper" 50
"Thunderbolt from a cloudless sky": Darwin and Natural Selection 62
Evolution by Natural Selection 69
Agreeing with Darwin 74
Disagreeing with Darwin 77
Female Choice 77
Genetics 81
Name Selection 86
Beyond Natural Selection 87
Darwinism 105
Biogeography 108
The Amazon 109
South-east Asia: "Wallace's Line" 112
Synthesis 117
Natural History and Conservation 125
The Amazon 127
South-east Asia 132
Conservation 146
Geography, Geology, and Glaciology 154
Geology 156
Glaciology 164
Humans 167
"Uncivilised people" 169
"A being apart": Human Evolution 175
Human Improvement 212
Spiritualism and Metaphysics 221
"Strange Doings": Conversion 223
"To excite to inquiry": Spiritualism and Science 235
A World Viewed Through the Lens of Spiritualism 250
Travel 261
Expectations 265
City Life 270
Life in the Field 273
"An industrious and persevering traveller" 281
"Tedious and unfortunate": Hazardous Voyages 290
"A want of harmony between man and nature": American Travels 303
Social Issues 307
Evolution of a Socialist 309
"Robbery of the poor by the rich": The Land Problem 319
Public Health 333
Institutional Reform 342
Public Education 351
Capitalism and Empire 357
Economics 357
Globalization 368
War and Imperialism 370
Coda: Wallace and Darwin 379
Notes 385
Bibliography 413
Wallace's Major Publications 413
A Selection of Publications on or about Wallace 418
Index 421
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