The Origins of Species

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Trade Paperback, 446 pages
Barnes & Noble Books, 2004
First Edition, Twenty-first Printing

Book Blurb

On December 27, 1831, Charles Darwin left Plymouth Harbor aboard the H. M. S. Beagle. For the next five years, the naturalist 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.

In The Origin of Species, Darwin 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, Origin 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 has influenced all subsequent literary, philosophical, and religious thinkers since.

Introduction and Notes by George Levine

About the Author

Charles Darwin, a Victorian scientist and naturalist, has become one of the most famous figures of science to date. Born in 1809 to an upper-middle-class medical family, he was destined for a career in either medicine or the Anglican Church. However, he never completed his medical education and his future changed entirely in 1831 when he joined HMS Beagle as a self-financing, independent naturalist. On returning to England in 1836 he began to write up his theories and observations which culminated in a series of books, most famously On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859, where he challenged and contradicted contemporary biological and religious beliefs with two decades worth of scientific investigation and theory. Darwin's theory of natural selection is now the most widely accepted scientific model of how species evolve. He died in 1882 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

George Levine, Kenneth Burke Professor of English Literature at Rutgers University, has written extensively about Darwin and science-literature relations, 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.