Monday, 11 August 2014

On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life by Charles Darwin

“But the chief cause of our natural unwillingness to admit that one species has given birth to other and distinct species, is that we are always slow in admitting any great change of which we do not see the intermediate steps.“

It has taken me seemingly forever to finish this book - yes I've had numerous distractions en route. Nevertheless, I was determined to finish this classic of science. One thing that certainly stood out is how wordy it is. It is a far cry from the academic tract that I had anticipated.

Perhaps that is why this has stood the test of time, the language is florid, yet comprehensible, although possibly requiring a little tenacity from the modern reader who is used to gratification in 140 characters.

 Despite the meanderings of the text, it helpfully summarises in the last chapter, leaving the reader far more certain of what has gone on before. This was helpful, since I read it in short spurts over half a year.

When I consider that this book was first published in 1859, the same year Dickens released (in instalments) , A Tale of Two Cities, I'm struck by the  linguistic aptitude of the times and I wonder what modern writing will  similarly retain its relevancy over the years to come.

Back to the book - well clearly a novel it isn't, yet for the time, its ideas were both novel and revolutionary. I suppose those same ideas remain revolutionary today to certain people who subscribe to the mythological. It is, however, people like Charles Darwin who  demonstrate the importance of challenging ideas in the discovery of knowledge and for that I applaud him. Let's hope that the insanity of political correctness does not prevent similarly gifted individuals from rocking the intellectual boat and discovering new wonders.
 That being said, I'm afraid I won't be re-reading this. The geek in me says I've done a good thing by completing it and now I can move on to less heavy, more flippant flights of fancy. So it comes as no surprise that the book I'm starting has something to do  with birds

3 out of 5 stars and a few bragging rights.

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