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Mr Darwin's shooter de Roger McDonald
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Mr Darwin's shooter (original: 1998; edição: 1998)

de Roger McDonald

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3681153,345 (3.63)46
"the story of Syms Covington, Darwin's manservant on the Beagle and afterwards. Last century Charles Darwin set out on a voyage in the Beagle that would change forever the way human history was viewed. It was on this voyage that Darwin collected the information that gave birth to his controversial Theory of Evolution. This is a novel of scientific discovery, of religious faith, of masters and servants, and of the endless wonder of the natural world. But its greatest triumph is Covington himself, the boy who looked up at the beckoning figure of a yellow-haired Christian in the stained glass window in his boyhood church of Bedford, and sought to follow. He leaves Bedford as a lad of 13 and goes to sea with the evangelical sailor John Phipps and becomes one of Phipps' 'lads'. But Phipps' catechising can't repress Covington's passage into manhood, nor prevent him chasing the exotic native maidens of Tierra del Fuego. When next he returns to sea it is to serve on the Beagle. Mr Darwin's Shooter re-creates the voyage of the Beagle, where Covington spends time exploring -- and collecting specimens -- inland. And we travel on to the Galapagos Islands, with their huge… (mais)
Membro:huni
Título:Mr Darwin's shooter
Autores:Roger McDonald
Informação:Milsons Point, N.S.W. : Random House, 1998.
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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Etiquetas:Nenhum(a)

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Mr. Darwin's Shooter de Roger McDonald (1998)

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I liked this account of Syms Covington, an English sailor, who became Darwin's assistant during the voyage of the Beagle. Through his writing, McDonald illustrates well the times and beliefs of mid-18th century England and Australia. ( )
  krin5292 | May 6, 2019 |
I am always fascinated about "the unsung heroes" for some of history's really big developments. MacDonald chooses the perfect person to focus on when he decides to write a fictional account of the life, thoughts, feelings and emotions of an individual who by today's standards would have been considered a co-contributor to Darwin's naturalist work and the creation of his "Origin of the Species" thesis. On one level, this is a full on adventure story of what it might have been like for a 19th century young lad with no work prospects at home to embark on a seafaring life, and what a seafaring life MacDonald portrays! On a different level, this story is about the unique friendship that grows between a much older Covington - being forced to give up his seafaring ways - and the young American raised, Australian based doctor MacCracken. If that is not enough, the story even dips into the realm of conflicting views as the older Covington, of the Congregationalist religious persuasion, grapples with the overarching concepts contained in Darwin's newly released [Origins of the Species] and how they are at odds with his religious beliefs.

Well the story presents a rich tapestry of the historical time period, and I love the idea of being able to visit such pristine places like the Galapagos in the 19th century through the story, I have to admit that it took me two months to read this one. I just never felt connected to the story, the characters or their situations. That being said, I do want to see if I can find the book referenced in the story of the Beagle's historic journey, and now have a renewed interest to read The Origins of the Species, so some good did come out of reading this one. ( )
  lkernagh | Mar 31, 2018 |
Roger McDonald is a noted Australian novelist however this is the first of his books that I have had the pleasure of reading. Like The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami that I read earlier this year, this is a book based on the life of a real person. Syms Covington, the titular protagonist of this story was a person like most people who have lived and were forgotten. Now his life has been impressively reclaimed from history's notorious dustbin in this novel by Roger McDonald.

Syms Covington was 15 years old when he joined the crew of H.M. S. Beagle for a journey that would change forever both his own life and humanity's view of our place in the world. As collector and shooter and all-around assistant, young Covington accompanied Darwin throughout the five-year voyage and for two years of wrap-up work after the return to England. The Darwin biographer Janet Browne describes Covington as the unacknowledged shadow behind Darwin's every triumph. McDonald's fictionalized account of Covington's life is a well-researched book, rich in the complicated issues that surround Darwin and his work, especially its shock to Victorian religious sensibilities. But this novel is genuinely about Syms Covington, not about Darwin. It is about his adventurous life, which happens to accompany for a time that of a man destined to become the most influential scientist of his era.

McDonald imbues his story with the textures and assumptions of 19th-century life including religion, work, clothes, food, even shipboard floggings. The result is a well wrought tale of a man who embodies the milieu of his generation. It is the story of a daring, courageous, passionate man who is troubled by his own small role in the shocking changes going on about him. When we first meet Syms he is 12 years old, the religion-drenched son of a butcher. We accompany him as he and Charles Darwin and the natural sciences grow up. As readers we follow him into a contentious, disappointed middle age.

McDonald constantly surprises. His prose is ebullient, at times boisterous, holding the interest of the reader with language so vivid and original, alternately comic and tragic, that it reminded me of the novels of Dickens. McDonald makes his history come alive by refusing to stray from the sweaty, angry, sad, and sometimes violence of reality. This is one of the better historical novels I have read. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jul 29, 2017 |
It's no great surprise to me that when Darwin was collecting specimens, he hired a man to do it. Given the fact that we are in the nineteenth Century, I'm not surprised that the man was a believing christian. Mr. McDonald lays out many straw men in his fiction, and there would be no reason for the pair to have philosophical discussions. The book is badly engineered, plot-wise. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jul 16, 2014 |
I almost didn't finish this book because of the difficult sentence structure and just plain hard to understand writing at times. Now that I have read some of the other reviews, I have a better understanding of what the author was attempting to accomplish; however, for me the book would have had an even greater impact if I didn't have to "work so hard" to understand the language.

However, in spite of that, this is a wonderful book and certainly it is an enormous undertaking to try to show the struggle between science and faith in such an interesting way. This struggle is brought to life not in a huge clash of differences, but rather through the small, subtle events and actions over a life time. When Covington began his work for Darwin, he had no idea of what he was doing and where it would take him. His struggle of faith evolves in a complexities of his own life -- his relationship with the other seamen, his family, his work, his deafness, and his sense of pride and hurt ego at not being fully acknowledged for his contributions.

This book was hard to read, but when I was finished, I found myself going back and rereading sections that made much more sense the second time through. This is an interesting book, but one that would have had an even greater impact on me if the language would have been simplier. Sometimes the words just got in the way. ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 16, 2013 |
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"the story of Syms Covington, Darwin's manservant on the Beagle and afterwards. Last century Charles Darwin set out on a voyage in the Beagle that would change forever the way human history was viewed. It was on this voyage that Darwin collected the information that gave birth to his controversial Theory of Evolution. This is a novel of scientific discovery, of religious faith, of masters and servants, and of the endless wonder of the natural world. But its greatest triumph is Covington himself, the boy who looked up at the beckoning figure of a yellow-haired Christian in the stained glass window in his boyhood church of Bedford, and sought to follow. He leaves Bedford as a lad of 13 and goes to sea with the evangelical sailor John Phipps and becomes one of Phipps' 'lads'. But Phipps' catechising can't repress Covington's passage into manhood, nor prevent him chasing the exotic native maidens of Tierra del Fuego. When next he returns to sea it is to serve on the Beagle. Mr Darwin's Shooter re-creates the voyage of the Beagle, where Covington spends time exploring -- and collecting specimens -- inland. And we travel on to the Galapagos Islands, with their huge

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