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The Voyage of the Beagle (Adventure Classics) (original 1839; edition 2010)

by Charles Darwin

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1,771163,972 (4.05)1 / 112
Member:bookwoman247
Title:The Voyage of the Beagle (Adventure Classics)
Authors:Charles Darwin
Info:White Star Publishers (2010), Hardcover, 688 pages
Collections:Your library, read
Rating:****1/2
Tags:non-fiction, travel, nature, nature science, science, library book, history of science, evolution, natural history

Work details

The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin (1839)

  1. 00
    Fitzroy: The Remarkable Story of Darwin's Captain and the Invention of the Weather Forecast by John Gribbin (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: As an ideal companion read.
  2. 00
    Savage: The Life And Times Of Jemmy Button by Nick Hazlewood (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: The two stories interlink particulary around the facinating character of Captain Fitzroy.
  3. 00
    The Uttermost Part of the Earth by E. Lucas Bridges (amerynth)
    amerynth: Great account of living on Tierra del Fuego, with more extensive account of Jemmy Button, York Minster and Fuegia Basket.
  4. 00
    Darwin and the Beagle by Alan Moorehead (John_Vaughan)
  5. 01
    This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson (mellu)
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Summary: When people mention Charles Darwin and the HMS Beagle, the only place most people think of (if they think of anything at all) is the Galápagos Islands. However, the Beagle circumnavigated the world in its five year voyage, and the young Charles Darwin saw it all. The Voyage of the Beagle is his account of the journey, edited together from his journal entries at the time. He describes the geology, the animals, the vegetation, and the people of the lands he visits, and speculates about the nature of some of his observations.

Review: I read this book in a very, very piecemeal fashion (over five years it took!) but I really enjoyed it. Darwin is so often depicted as a grumpy old man with the giant beard that I think people tend to forget that his trip on the Beagle was actually when he was quite young, basically a twenty-something who didn't want to go to med school and didn't really know what he wanted to do with his life (I try to emphasize this point to my students as often as I can, since many of them are probably twenty-somethings not sure what they want to do with their lives). So his journals are full of careful observation and beautifully rendered descriptions and thoughtful conclusions, but there's also a fair bit of hitting birds with his rock hammer and jumping on the back giant tortoises and hitting them with sticks until they move and knocking birds off of their perches with the muzzle of his gun. (And also occasionally bemoaning his seasickness.)

It was also totally fascinating reading this book in the light of knowing about Darwin's future work. It's hard not to spot the germs of his future ideas on evolution by natural selection in some of the passages. This book is just peppered with little bits about the length of time that physical features must have taken, and how similar but different animals in different locations are, and the relationship between changing geology and changing vegetation, and island biogeography. For example: "Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small, intimately related group of birds, one might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends." There's half of an introductory lecture on the history of evolutionary thought right there. And who doesn't hear echoes (or future echoes, I guess. Pre-echoes?) of the last line of On the Origin of Species in the line "Where on the face of the earth can we find a spot on which close investigation will not discover signs of that endless cycle of change, to which this earth has been, is, and will be subjected?"

This book obviously tickled me as a biologist, but it was also easy to read, and well-written, if full of the Victorian standard run-on sentences, but also some wonderfully evocative passages. Some parts are a little dry - he expounds at great length on some seemingly small and obscure topics, like the formation of coral atolls - but as a whole, it's a really interesting blend of science and adventuring and nature writing, and really a just plain fascinating book to read. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Biologists and those interested in the history of science are the main audience, obviously, but I think anyone who likes travel books, naval adventures, or the age of exploration should find some bits here to interest them as well. If you can find an illustrated edition, I think that would be extremely helpful; if not, keep Wikipedia and a map of the Beagle's journey handy. ( )
  fyrefly98 | May 15, 2014 |
The work of science is often shown as a form of vision, innate to the workings of science, and exploring the various ways in which that kind of vision manifests within the work of the scientist. Though vision is often invoked as a metaphor for the operation of science by scientists and non-scientists alike, it can be an odd one. John Berger opens his famous Ways of Seeing with the statement: “Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak” (7). The metaphor of sight suggests something instantaneous and intrinsic, but much of the writing on scientific sight stresses the need for training, for time, and for judgment.

Charles Darwin returns to the concept of scientific sight several times in The Voyage of the Beagle, most interestingly when contemplating how one looks at a lagoon island: “We feel surprise when travelers tell us of the vast dimensions of the Pyramids and other great ruins, but how utterly insignificant are the greatest of these, when compared to these mountains of stone accumulated by the agency of various minute and tender animals! This is a wonder which does not at first strike the eye of the body, but, after reflection, the eye of reason” (464). For Darwin, scientific sight is a direct contrast to visual sight—it requires reflection to see with it, as well as training. It does not come before words, but rather requires considerable knowledge in order to utilize.

There is not much of a resemblance between visual sight and scientific sight in this instance, except in one regard—its all-pervasiveness. Berger’s formulation that “Seeing comes before words” suggests that it is impossible to not see, that it suffuses every part of the human experience. In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn employs the metaphor of sight for similar reasons, using it to explain his concept of the scientific paradigm: an orientation towards the world so innate that one is almost literally unable to see it differently. Scientific sight, as used by Darwin and others, suggests that the worldview of the scientist is so ingrained that once acquired, it cannot be gotten rid of.
  Stevil2001 | Aug 26, 2013 |
This biography about Charles Darwin would be a great addition to a collection of biographies in a classroom. It is very detailed so I would not use it in primary grades, but would be great in a unit on biographies in intermediate grades. ( )
  JodiEasley | Dec 3, 2012 |
1839. Fascinating read.
  kwkslvr | May 15, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (39 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Darwin, Charlesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amigoni, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Case, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eliot, Charles WilliamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Engel, LeonardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, WalterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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After having been twice driven back by heavy southwestern gales, Her Majesty's ship Beagle, a ten-gun brig, under the command of Captain Fitz Roy, R. N., sailed from Devonport on the 27th of December, 1831.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Although The Voyage of the Beagle is the most common title in English, there are others; the work was published by Darwin in 1839 as Journal and Remarks, and is also known as Darwin's Journal of Researches.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014043268X, Paperback)

"The Voyage of the Beagle" is Charles Darwin's account of the momentous voyage which set in motion the current of intellectual events leading to "The Origin of Species". This "Penguin Classics" edition is edited with an introduction and notes by Janet Brown and Michael Neve. When HMS Beagle sailed out of Devonport on 27 December 1831, Charles Darwin was twenty-two and setting off on the voyage of a lifetime. His journal, here reprinted in a shortened form, shows a naturalist making patient observations concerning geology, natural history, people, places and events. Volcanoes in the Galapagos, the Gossamer spider of Patagonia and the Australasian coral reefs - all are to be found in these extraordinary writings. The insights made here were to set in motion the intellectual currents that led to the theory of evolution, and the most controversial book of the "Victorian age: The Origin of Species". This volume reprints Charles Darwin's journal in a shortened form. In their introduction Janet Brown and Michael Neve provide a background to Darwin's thought and work, and this edition also includes notes, maps, appendices and an essay on scientific geology and the Bible by Robert FitzRoy, Darwin's friend and Captain of the Beagle. Charles Darwin (1809-82), a Victorian scientist and naturalist, has become one of the most famous figures of science to date. The advent of "On the Origin of Species" by means of natural selection in 1859 challenged and contradicted all contemporary biological and religious beliefs. If you enjoyed "The Voyage of the Beagle", you might enjoy Darwin's "On the Origin of Species", also available in "Penguin Classics".

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:52 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

This narrative of Charles Darwin's journey aboard the Beagle during which he made observations that lead to his theory of natural selection.

(summary from another edition)

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