The Origin of Species (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
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Overview

The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

On December 27, 1831, the young naturalist Charles Darwin left Plymouth Harbor aboard the HMS Beagle. For the next five years, he conducted research on plants and animals from around the globe, amassing a body of evidence that would culminate in one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind—the theory of evolution.

Darwin presented his stunning insights in a landmark book that forever altered the way human beings view themselves and the world they live in. In The Origin of Species, he convincingly demonstrates the fact of evolution: that existing animals and plants cannot have appeared separately but must have slowly transformed from ancestral creatures. Most important, the book fully explains the mechanism that effects such a transformation: natural selection, the idea that made evolution scientifically intelligible for the first time.

One of the few revolutionary works of science that is engrossingly readable, The Origin of Species not only launched the science of modern biology but also has influenced virtually all subsequent literary, philosophical, and religious thinking.

George Levine, Kenneth Burke Professor of English Literature at Rutgers University, has written extensively about Darwin and the relation of science and literature, particularly in Darwin and the Novelists. He is the author of many related books, including The Realistic Imagination, Dying to Know, and his birdwatching memoirs, Lifebirds.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593083465
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 3/29/2008
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Darwin
George Levine, Kenneth Burke Professor of English Literature at Rutgers University, has written extensively about Darwin and the relation of science and literature, particularly in Darwin and the Novelists. He is the author of many related books, including The Realistic Imagination, Dying to Know, and his birdwatching memoirs, Lifebirds.

Biography

Robert Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England, on February 12, 1809, into a wealthy and highly respected family. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, was a doctor and the author of many works, including his well-known Zoonomia, or the Laws of Organic Life, which suggested a theory of evolution. Charles's father, Robert Waring Darwin, was also a prosperous doctor; his mother, Susannah, was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the renowned Wedgwood potteries. The Darwins and the Wedgwoods had close and long-standing relations, and Charles was to marry his cousin, Emma Wedgwood.

In 1825 at age sixteen, Darwin matriculated at Edinburgh University to study medicine. There, his early interest in natural history developed, and he studied particularly crustaceans, sea creatures, and beetles. Nauseated by the sight of blood, however, he decided that medicine was not his vocation, left Edinburgh in 1827 and entered Christ's College, Cambridge University, with no clear sense of possible vocation, theology itself being an option. At Cambridge he became friends with J. S. Henslow, a clergyman who was also professor of botany. Although Darwin was to graduate from Cambridge with a B.A. in theology, he spent much time with Henslow, developing his interest in natural science. It was Henslow who secured a position for Darwin on an exploratory expedition aboard the HMS Beagle.

In December 1831, the year he graduated from Cambridge, Darwin embarked upon a five-year voyage to Africa and South America, acting as a companion to the captain, Robert Fitzroy. Darwin spent more time in land expeditions than at sea, where he was always seasick, but during the long voyages he continued his collecting and, cramped in his tiny cabin, meticulously wrote up his ideas. Several years after his return, at the time of the birth of his first son, William, Darwin fell ill. It is conjectured that while in South America he had contracted Chagas's disease, but whatever the cause, the effects were debilitating for the rest of Darwin's life.

By the time he returned to London in 1835, many of his letters, some to scientists like Charles Lyell and Adam Sedgwick, had been read before scientific societies, and he was already a well known and respected naturalist. His first published book, an account of his voyage aboard the Beagle, entitled Journal of Researches, appeared in 1839 and was widely popular. He married the same year; soon after, the family moved from London to a secluded house at Down, in Kent, where Darwin wrote initial sketches of his theory and then preparing himself for the full exposition, spent eight years writing a detailed set of definitive monographs on barnacles.

In 1858, when Darwin was halfway through writing his book, "Natural Selection," A. R. Wallace sent him a paper called, "On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type." In language similar to Darwin's own, Wallace laid out the argument for natural selection. Wallace asked Darwin to help get the paper published -- obviously an alarming development for a man who had given twenty years of his life to getting the argument for natural selection right. Darwin's scientific friends advised him to gather materials giving evidence of his priority but to have the Wallace paper read before the Linnaean Society, along with a brief account of his own ideas. Immediately after the reading, Darwin began work on his "abstract" of "Natural Selection." The result was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, published in 1859. Despite the controversy it generated, it was an immense success and went through five more editions in Darwin's lifetime.

Darwin devoted the rest of his life to researching and writing scientific treatises, drawing on his notebooks and corresponding with scientists all over the world, and thus developing and modifying parts of his larger argument.

Darwin never traveled again and much of his scientific work was done in his own garden and study at home. Others, particularly his "bulldog," T. H. Huxley, fought the battle for evolution publicly, and as Darwin remained quietly ailing at home, his family grew -- he had ten children -- and so did his reputation. Although he was always ill with symptoms that made it impossible for him to work full days, he produced an enormous volume of work. His death, on April 19, 1882, was a national event. Despite the piety of his wife, Emma, Darwin had fallen away from religion as he reflected both on the way nature worked and on the way his favorite daughter, Annie, died painfully from an unknown feverish illness, when she was ten. Nevertheless, ironically, he was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Origin of Species.

Good To Know

Darwin was born on the same day as U.S. president Abraham Lincoln.

He broke his longtime snuff habit by keeping his snuff box in the basement and the key to it in the attic.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      February 12, 1809
    2. Place of Birth:
      Shrewsbury, England
    1. Date of Death:
      April 19, 1882
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Theology, Christ’s College, Cambridge University, 1831

Read an Excerpt

From George Levine's Introduction to On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection

On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859)1 is one of the major books of Western civilization, and possibly the last major scientific text fully readable by nonscientists. It was written before the full force of scientific specialization had created the division we are used to today: science written for scientists, and intelligible only to them, or popular science aimed not at being science but at explaining it, and (usually) making otherwise too difficult scientific ideas attractive to the nonexpert.

Darwin was certainly writing for scientists, but he knew that his book would be read by many nonprofessionals, and by many who were deeply invested in the religious and cultural implications of his ideas. The book is thus a work of real science, offering the strongest possible technical arguments for its ideas, while at that same time it does much of the work of popular science. But Darwin was never a popularizer like his "bulldog" and partisan, T. H. Huxley (also a distinguished scientist), who took upon himself the job of fighting all the fights, particularly the cultural ones, that Darwin's ideas were to arouse. More than a hundred years later, and despite the triumph of his ideas in the world of science, Darwin continues to need his bulldogs, for the very availability of his text to lay readers makes it particularly susceptible to critique from the whole spectrum of cultural and religious critics, many of whom do not seem really to understand its arguments. The upside of this condition is that the book has survived longer than virtually all other scientific texts—whose usual life span is necessarily very short because science moves so quickly. Its ideas remain important, and they are well and lucidly argued. Evolution, the dominant idea with which Darwin's name is permanently associated (though he didn't actually use the word), was promulgated and firmly established in The Origin of Species. And we can still read the book now, even without the help of Huxley or the modern polymath popularizer and scientist Stephen Jay Gould.

This is not to say it is an "easy" book, or one that prima facie will thrill lay readers out for a good read. It really is a good read, despite (or, one might say, because of) the rigor of its argument and the almost overwhelming accumulation of details deployed in support; but it is deceptively simple. No book with so clear and well argued a position has been so variously interpreted and so widely misunderstood; few have been as difficult for its readers fully to absorb. The simple argument is so fundamentally anti-intuitive that even now, after 150 years, it has been difficult not to distort it in directions more comfortably consistent with readers' assumptions about the way the world is. Reading the book remains an adventure, and the activity of imagining Darwin's prolific, diverse, and often very beautiful world continues to be an exciting challenge to one's tacit assumptions about the way the world works.

The Origin of Species is not only a fundamental work in the history of science; it is a unique book in the history of English literature. There are few as important. That Darwin was a great scientist everyone knows, but it is not immediately obvious that he was a great writer as well. Yet no writer of the nineteenth century had to struggle more strenuously with the limits of language, none was more imaginatively and creatively metaphorical, few were more influential in shaping other writers' imagination of the world: none had a more significant and lasting effect on Western culture.

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Customer Reviews

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( 100 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 100 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2006

    The first Origin is the best Origin

    Darwin's Origin of Species needs no critical review in a forum like this. However, students of Darwinian evolutionary thought should take notice of this $6 clothbound hard cover edition. This is, as far as I can tell, the original 1859 first edition of the Origin. It is also a handy size, perfect for reading in bed, on a plane or on the beach. Why would you want a copy of the 1st edition rather than the author's own later revised editions? Because the 1st is the most honest, naive, and straightforward statement of Darwin's ideas, undiluted by later defensive responses to the heavy criticism of his contemporaries. The 1st edition contains the passage about the bear as ancestor to the whale, which he removed from all later editions because it was a point of scorn and ridicule from the scientific community of the day. Obviously he was wrong in detail (whales evolved from a carnivorous common ancestor with cows, not bears), but as the fossils of Pakistan show, he was precisely right in the broad idea of macroevolutionary change, which was really his point anyway. Another notable difference between the 1st and later editions of The Origin is the term 'survival of the fittest.' Darwin didn't coin the phrase, nor did he use it in the 1st edition, though he added it to later editions. In fact, it was invented by Herbert Spencer in reference to his atrocious ideas of Social Darwinism. And like a weak pawn on a chessboard, the phrase has been the subject of repeated attacks by creationsists for many years (the implication being that it is a circular argument). Though Spencer's arguments may have been circular, Darwin's never are. Nevertheless, the book probably reads better without the reference. There are several nice new omnibus editions of Darwin's important works edited by great modern scientists. I don't know whether those editors chose the 1st edition or not. In any case those are large expensive copies of the book, possibly better suited for library shelves than for sitting down and reading. If you want a copy to read, this Barnes & Noble edition is a great one, especially considering that a mass market paperback costs about 3 dollars more than this edition!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2002

    Vituperatous Brood

    For those of us Christians who would condem this theory, open your minds to the possibilities of the descriptive power of science. For those of us scientists who would otherwise berate or belittle creationism, remember that they are your brothers and believe that 'What now is has already been, what is to be already is; and God restores what would otherwise be displaced.' (Ecclesiastes 3:15) For both, put down your weapons you vituperatous brood and seek the truth without malice or ego.

    5 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    It's a Classic

    This is an awesome book for anyone interested in the origins of the current biological theories. It is well written and very convincing, and quite impressive, considering that it was written well before modern genetics provided such voluminous evidence for his conclusions.

    Have a wonderful day!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2003

    This Book Is Great and Informational

    Thhe Origin of Species is a great book. I am 12 years old and i thought it was a great book. It is a best buy for any person.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2003

    A must read

    First off i didn't read this edition of the book I read 'Origin of Species' a Facsimilie of the original edition. By Charles Darwin which is basically the same book except it is completely unaltered from the original edition. It is an excelent book and gives proof beyond any reasonable doubt that evolution is a fact. But nowhere in this book by Darwin does it say anywhere that Man came from apes. Though the entire theory of evolution suggests it, it isn't anywhere in this book.That information is in another book by Charles Darwin called 'The Descent of man' which mainly deals with sexual selection. What is in the book is a spectactularly written step by step play by play look at why he and his coleagues were lead to believe beyond any doubt that evolution really is the mechanism which nature uses to create new species and get rid of other ones. Darwin gives countless examples from species around the world and explains the overwhelming evidence in support of his theory. The detail given by Darwin far exceeds any found in any text book anywhere on the subject. This is the single best book available anywhere in the world on the subject and a total must read. Some of his explanations are kind of long and the book can get overwhelming and boring from time to time but you have to keep in mind while reading it that it isn't just a book it is a complete scientific explanation of how evolution works , why it works, and the problems with it and other scientific theories. I don't think it was originally published for the layman to read. It is a true scientific work and should be read like one. If you plan on readling this book Plan on reading something that is like a 500 page scientific theory. Don't expect it to be really easy to read because it is not. You wouldn't read through 'Einsteins Theory of Relativity' by Max Borne in a few days and fully understand it. The same goes for this book. Evolution in general is fairly easy to understand in Highschool Biology class but they don't give the kind of detail that Darwin gives. keep that in mind when reading this book. It is fairly easy to understand if you take your time with it.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    Zach says

    This book is slow to read, but very interesting. Darwin and his theory of evolution have been so currupted by modern teaching. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the actual history and the original theory as it was first presented. Take your time and digest this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2012

    Science got love it

    Great piece of work and will give you a better understanding of natural selection. I have heard darwins name mentioned for years in school but they never tell what he said in his own words and how he said them.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2012

    Truth

    Charles darwin has even disproved his own theory. I dont understand how you beleive in this. But it is a well written book.

    2 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2003

    Charles, R. Darwin

    One of the great minds among Newton, and Einstein, that history has misbelieved and forgotten.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2002

    Shutting up creationists

    Maybe close-minded Christians will read this book, cease hiding hehind their gods' skirt, and LEARN SOMETHING FOR A CHANGE!

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2009

    Must read for anyone interested in the sciences.

    We all know who Darwin was, and many will quote this work without ever reading it in its entirety. I think that everyone should read this amazing book, and you may even gain a new perspective on the world around you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    No Diverse Library is Complete Without it

    Not holding any theory of humanity's orgin as the literal truth I found this book to be an invaluable addition to my library. For those who like to combine matter with anti-matter place this next to the bible on your bookshelf. :)
    Well worth the price and a very interesting read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    Perfect addition to your permanent library

    I bought this book to be used as reference material for my zoology paper. The observations of Charles Darwin have long been pilars of biology as we know it today.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    This book should be required reading.

    This Charles Darwin book written in the 1830's is one of the most relevant in mankind's history. It expounds the theory of Evolution which is the basis of life on planet Earth. Darwin's theories in the book pokes holes in Creationism without doubt.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2002

    great for science papers!

    I had to do a report on Darwin, and this really helped me understand the stuff he did.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2001

    Darwin from a College Student's View

    Darwin's Origin of Species is an excellent book. The ideas immersed within the text are essential to life today. But Darwin is dense and a horrible writer, so this book is a hard read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2000

    Charles Darwin, iconoclast and genius

    I consider Charles Darwin to be among the most important scientific thinkers in history. His theory set the stage for a revolution of thought, and more than a century of continually groundbreaking evidence and exciting revisions. Without Darwin, the majority of us might still be stuck in the primitive, ignorant belief in creationism.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2000

    awesome book on evalutoin

    origon of species is a great book on were species came from and how they evoleved into the present day creatures that you see today i recomend that all animal lovers and scientists,bioligists anone that studies or loves or wants to know about the evelution of animals should get this book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2014

    Not a good copy

    The pages are all over the place. Some looked like a scanned copy and others looked like regular ebook.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    Meg

    She walked in and saw the bandoned camp.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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