The Voyage of the Beagle: Select Writings of Charles Darwin

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Well may we affirm that every part of the world is habitable! Whether lakes of brine, or those subterranean ones hidden beneath volcanic mountains—warm mineral springs—the wide expanse and depths of the ocean—the upper regions of the atmosphere, and even the surface of perpetual snow—all support organic beings."
—Charles Darwin

HMS Beagle put out of Devonport dockyard, England, on December 27, 1831, and one ...
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Overview

Well may we affirm that every part of the world is habitable! Whether lakes of brine, or those subterranean ones hidden beneath volcanic mountains—warm mineral springs—the wide expanse and depths of the ocean—the upper regions of the atmosphere, and even the surface of perpetual snow—all support organic beings."
—Charles Darwin

HMS Beagle put out of Devonport dockyard, England, on December 27, 1831, and one of the most extraordinary voyages in history was under way. Aboard was a highly skilled crew of surveyors, set to chart key coastlines for the British Admiralty—and a raw and inexperienced naturalist named Charles Darwin. This fairly obscure twenty-two year old had not been the first choice to accompany the Beagle expedition. Yet his experiences and insights reverberate to this day.

For a mind like Darwin's, open to fresh impressions, alert to their every implication, it was an exhilarating journey. Here is his detailed account of a five-year expedition that was as powerful emotionally and spiritually as it was scientifically; the formative moment of one of modernity's greatest minds.

These journals capture the "first sensations" of standing on a sun-seared volcanic island in mid-Atlantic; or plunging through a Brazilian rain forest "undefaced by the hand of man." Here are his awestruck reactions to the plains of Patagonia, the heights and abysses of the Andes and the extraordinary world-within-a-world he found in the Galápagos Islands, with its blue-footed boobies, iguanas and other colorful species. From the deep ravines of Australia's Blue Mountains to the coral reefs of the Keeling Islands, Darwin's words bear witness to all this, as they do to the majesty of a creation whose principles he was barely beginning to understand.

An earnest—even naïve—young man, Darwin had yet to find a firm direction in life (indeed, he had very seriously considered the clergy). The idea of evolution by natural selection was itself only just beginning to evolve: within these diaries we see the first hints of future theories taking form. This is a very different Darwin from the monumental figure we know today, revered—and reviled—as the Prophet of Evolution. Rather, he is a likeable young man brimful of curiosity and remarkably free of preconception or prejudice.

His voyage illuminates the complexities of nature but also the complex position of humanity in a changing world. Half appalled, half admiring, he looks into the eyes of men and women in their "primitive" state in Tierra del Fuego. In Argentina and Australia he observes great modern nations emerging against a background of repression and genocide: civilization has its savage side, he will find. And then there's the cruelty of creation itself: a city swept away by a tsunami; the aftermath of earthquake; and, within nature, the endless struggle to survive.

In the years that followed, Darwin would work through all the experiences of this voyage. The resulting theories formed a controversial legacy and a profoundly influential one: no area of science or intellectual inquiry has been left untouched. This is the book that gives the story at first hand, as it was experienced by Charles Darwin himself. It is the tale of a voyage that helped define the modern age.

Michael Kerrigan has written numerous books on exploration, history and literature, including Lewis and Clark: Voices from the Trail. He is a regular reviewer for journals including the London Times Literary Supplement. Educated at the University of Oxford, England, and with more than twenty years of research and writing to his credit, Kerrigan brings a broad perspective to the momentous saga of arguably the most significant exploratory endeavor in modern history.

Acclaimed photographer Wolfgang Kaehler is renowned for his work as a travel and wildlife photographer, having photographed around the world—including in some of the most remote regions—for almost thirty years. His images have appeared regularly in such prestigious publications as National Geographic and the Smithsonian Magazine and have earned him awards including Wildlife Photographer of the Year (BBC, 1985) and Exemplary Photojournalist (Chicago Headline Club, 1989).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760765388
  • Publisher: Sterling Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/20/2005
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 9.06 (w) x 10.98 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Scientist Charles Darwin once asserted that "a scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections -- a mere heart of stone." Indeed, his objective take on evolution asserted in The Origin of Species shook the foundations of traditional religion to its core.

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

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2011

    Bad Scan

    Bad Scan

    Like so many of the free books available for the Nook, this scan is very poor. Pagination and printing is off. It may be a good book, but the edition fails as an ebook.

    It is not worth the trouble, and I am deleting it.

    I guess you really do get what you pay for¿

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 28, 2011

    Good free version

    Some other versions were corrupted. This one is good.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2006

    Insightful but limited

    Why read half of something, or let other people decide what aspects of Darwin's text are appropriate? For that matter, do you care what a group of anonymous B&N compilers of data think? They lead this narrative with their own biases. If you are interested in Darwin, or not, still, you should go with a more authoritative, complete edition. Stear clear.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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