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Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist (1991)

de Adrian Desmond, James R. Moore

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646536,856 (4.02)13
"It is like confessing a murder." These are the words Charles Darwin uttered when he revealed to the world what he knew to be true: that humans are descended from headless hermaphrodite squids. How could a wealthy gentleman, a stickler for respectability, attack the foundations of his religion and Anglican society? Authors Adrian Desmond and James Moore, in what has been hailed as the definitive biography of Charles Darwin, not only explain the paradox of the man but bring us the full sweep of Victorian science, theology, and mores." "The authors unveil the battle over the mind and soul that raged around the student Darwin as well as his drunken high-life in prostitute-ridden Cambridge. They vividly re-create Darwin's five-year voyage on the Beagle and his struggle to develop his theory of evolution. Then, they follow Darwin through his decades of torment. Fully aware that his ideas could bring ruin and social ostracism to his beloved family, Darwin kept his thoughts secret for twenty years. Seeming to lead an ideal squire's life in rural Kent, he was actually a man "living in Hell," plagued by trembling, vomiting, and violent cramps and confronted by personal tragedy that left him grief-stricken for the rest of his life." "But even more than Marx and Freud, this anguished man was to transform the way we see ourselves on this planet. Desmond and Moore's rich, comprehensive, and unparalleled portrait of his life contains a wealth of newly transcribed and unpublished letters, a thorough understanding of all available Darwin research, and ninety photographs, many never published before. Its lively and accessible style makes each chapter as gripping to read as a novel, yet the legitimacy and importance of this seminal work is never diminished--providing the whole story of how Darwin came to his world-changing conclusions and how, when the Origin of Species was finally published, its consequences were far more dramatic than Darwin's worst fears ... and wildest dreams."--… (mais)
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» Veja também 13 menções

Exibindo 5 de 5
A wonderfully written life of Darwin.
Read in Samoa June 2002. ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 26, 2015 |
A very thought biography about one of the most important scientist ever lived. Everything you wanted to know about Darwin... ( )
  TheCrow2 | May 1, 2015 |
Adrian Desmond & James Moore: Darwin: 1992: eerste druk 1991: 677 blz: Penguin

Darwins vader was een welgestelde plattelandsarts, zodoende hoefde Charles en zijn oudere broer Erasmus nooit te werken om hun geld te verdienen. In zijn jeugd was Charles niet opvallend, hij hield van jagen en was een verwoed keververzamelaar. Op zijn 22e verjaardag kreeg hij een uitnodiging om mee te gaan met de reis van de Beagle om de wereld. Op deze reis die 5 jaar duurde en waarop hij herhaaldelijk ernstig zeeziek was gaf hij zijn ogen goed de kost en deed hij de ideeën op die zouden leiden tot de Origin of Species. Na afloop van de reis schreef hij 3 boeken over de geologie van Z-Amerika en een verslag van de tocht. Intussen trouwde hij nadat hij de voordelen van het trouwen had afgewogen tegen de nadelen. Hij kreeg 10 kinderen waarvan er 3 in de kinderjaren stierven. In 1842 schreef hij een eerste versie van het boek dat de Origin zou worden. Hij hield het bestaan van het manuscript geheim en bleef er tot 1859 aan werken. In de tussenliggende tijd schreef hij een dikke pil over eendemossels. In 1859 kreeg Darwin een brief van Alfred Wallace die een soort samenvatting van zijn evolutietheorie was. Darwin was geschokt en besloot om snel tot gelijktijdige publikatie met Wallace over te gaan. "On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection" werd goedverkocht en zou de grondslag vormen voor de wetenschap van de biologie. Tijdens zijn latere jaren schreef Darwin nog een aantal gespecialiseerde boeken. Hij werd na zijn dood in Westminster Abbey begraven.
Afgezien van het feit dat "Darwin" een erg dik boek is, is het goed geschreven, leest het vlot en is het inhoudelijk erg boeiend.
Uitgelezen: zondag 6 oktober 2002, waardering **** ( )
  erikscheffers | Sep 3, 2009 |
There's a tongue-in-cheek quality to this biography that leaves you rather uncertain as to what the authors really thought of Darwin. The writing style is breezy, postmodern, very much a look back at Darwin from the 21st century point of view. That makes this chunky book quite easy to read, but it did grate on me sometimes.

I did like the way in which this book placed Darwin's life at the center of so many others, and showed the links between his thinking and that of his contemporaries. He comes across as a man always anxious to preserve the status quo and avoid the extreme views both of the religious conservatives and of the atheist scientists. And yet his work was the catalyst for a total upheaval in the way people thought; Darwin was right at the center of the late nineteenth century shift towards secularism that is still playing out today. By the end of his life he was practically regarded as a saint by many, as a devil by others. But the picture I'm left with is of a sickly, fussy, obsessive worker who, after the Beagle voyage that made his name, was happiest in his comfortable yet modest home with his experiments, his devoted wife, and his children. ( )
1 vote JaneSteen | Aug 28, 2009 |
A great biography of Charles Darwin. This is a very thorough investigation into the life of a man whose ideas have changed the world.

I was fascinated by Darwin's background, motivation and fear of the consequences of publishing On The Origin Of Species.

Informative and sometimes very moving. ( )
  richardtaylor | Sep 27, 2006 |
Exibindo 5 de 5
Desmond and Moore reveal Darwin’s inner life indirectly, through his responses to outside events, so it is no surprise that the authors offer no summary assessment of Darwin’s character. Instead of a portrait we get a gallery of sketches: Darwin the heartbroken father, the calculating suitor; the grumpy recluse, the jolly companion; the impressionable youth, the grand old genius; the hater of Owen, the magnanimous rival of Wallace; the brave man of science, going forward alone; the timid Darwin, hanging on the approval of friends. Here are more enigmas. Desmond and Moore let them hang. What of Darwin’s science? It is true that Desmond and Moore show (for example) Darwin developing the principle of “division of labour” by analogy with industrial workshops, and the bloody Crimean war informing his chapter on the Struggle for Existence. But the “enigma” that this book helps us to grasp is emotional and social, not intellectual. What “tortured” Darwin were not the implications of believing his theory of evolution (Lyell suffered the most from this kind of torture), but the implications of publicizing it. If this is what the authors want us to grasp then the book is an outstanding success, even if it leaves some of the interpretative work in the hands of the reader.
 
In other words, what we have in Desmond and Moore’s biography is a Darwin carefully crafted to accord with a preconceived view of scientific history, one which needs to be viewed “with extreme caution” and “contested at almost every sentence” (Levine 1994, p. 194). That their Darwin won, among other awards, the 1997 British Society for the History of Science Dingle Prize “for the best book of the decade in communicating the history of science to a wide audience” is a measure of how successful Desmond and Moore have been in promoting both their portrait of Darwin and their social constructivist view of the origins of his evolutionary theory. But close reading of the text, such as those by well informed and conscientious historians like Grene and Levine which reveal the authors’ dubious techniques of persuasion, indicates that the book does not merit the accolades it has received.
 

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Adrian Desmondautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Moore, James R.autor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
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What a book a Devil's Chaplain might
write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering
low & horridly cruel works of nature!

Charles Darwin in 1856, about to
start the Origin of Species
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CHARLES DARWIN'S grandfather Erasmus had a lacerating wit and a loathing of meddling gods.
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What need of Christianity when men can sup 'the milk of science'? Did not the priestess of Nature explain all things? - even Creation itself?

Nurs'd by warm sun-beams in primeval caves
Organic Life began beneath the waves . . .
Hence without parent by spontaneous birth
Rise the first specks of animated earth.

There spoke Erasmus (Erasmus Darwin - Charles' grandfather, in his poem 'The Temple of Nature' published posthumously in 1803), a hard-headed freethinker, like so many in the sun-lit years of the Enlightenment.
Walking with Darwin … In his (Robert Edmond Grant) talks he had presented the sponge as the 'parent' of higher animals. ... Even dry-as-dust (Robert) Jameson penned an anonymous paper in 1826 praising 'Mr Lamarck' for explaining how the higher animals had 'evolved' from the 'simplest worms.' (This was the first use of the word 'evolved' in a modern sense.)
Grant assumed that, as the primal earth cooled, changing conditions drove life towards higher, hotter-blooded forms. A progressive sequence of fossils stood as proof. He explained it as they strode along, and Darwin listened in 'silent astonishment.'
... before moving to Shrewsbury on 15 June (1842). Taking advantage of the seclusion, he finally fleshed-out a thirty-five-page sketch of his evolutionary theory in pencil. ... It looked good on paper, pieced together for the first time.
(1855) From infinitesimal variations, common rabbits and pigeons had been stretched to the extent of emulating whole new genera.
Darwin believed that similar imperceptible variations held the key to Nature's own Malthusian selection. Weak, ill-adapted variants were discarded by Nature, as they were by the fancier. The good ones thrived and over the generations particular trends were encouraged. Adaptive features were drawn out, as if by an invisible breeder. 'Artificial selection' showed the craftsman sculpting nature; Nature's own 'selecting' hand was infinitely superior.
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"It is like confessing a murder." These are the words Charles Darwin uttered when he revealed to the world what he knew to be true: that humans are descended from headless hermaphrodite squids. How could a wealthy gentleman, a stickler for respectability, attack the foundations of his religion and Anglican society? Authors Adrian Desmond and James Moore, in what has been hailed as the definitive biography of Charles Darwin, not only explain the paradox of the man but bring us the full sweep of Victorian science, theology, and mores." "The authors unveil the battle over the mind and soul that raged around the student Darwin as well as his drunken high-life in prostitute-ridden Cambridge. They vividly re-create Darwin's five-year voyage on the Beagle and his struggle to develop his theory of evolution. Then, they follow Darwin through his decades of torment. Fully aware that his ideas could bring ruin and social ostracism to his beloved family, Darwin kept his thoughts secret for twenty years. Seeming to lead an ideal squire's life in rural Kent, he was actually a man "living in Hell," plagued by trembling, vomiting, and violent cramps and confronted by personal tragedy that left him grief-stricken for the rest of his life." "But even more than Marx and Freud, this anguished man was to transform the way we see ourselves on this planet. Desmond and Moore's rich, comprehensive, and unparalleled portrait of his life contains a wealth of newly transcribed and unpublished letters, a thorough understanding of all available Darwin research, and ninety photographs, many never published before. Its lively and accessible style makes each chapter as gripping to read as a novel, yet the legitimacy and importance of this seminal work is never diminished--providing the whole story of how Darwin came to his world-changing conclusions and how, when the Origin of Species was finally published, its consequences were far more dramatic than Darwin's worst fears ... and wildest dreams."--

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