"" Writer's Wanderings: Books For The Road - The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

Monday, April 29, 2013

Books For The Road - The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

Anticipating our trip to the Galapagos Islands and knowing that they played an important part in Charles Darwin's work, I was curious to know a bit more about the man whose controversial writings still ignite debate. A comment too by a friend of mine as to Darwin originally being a man of faith fueled my curiosity. I had a hard time deciding which version of his autobiography to read but chose what I could download from our library.
The edition I downloaded was edited by Francis Darwin, his son. He eliminated all of the personal entries in the journal his father wrote mainly for his wife and children. He felt his father never intended the personal items to be made public. It keeps you from seeing, I feel, an important side of the man.

It is a heavy read, Darwin not sparing the reader the scientific names for plants, animals, insects and geological finds. But what did I learn? I discovered that in his early days Darwin was a rather unruly rich kid who considered that he was well off enough to perhaps just enjoy a life of shooting and hunting which he dearly loved.

Darwin's father though would not be content for his son to follow his own way and insisted that he enter medical school as had his brother to follow the family history of medical professionals. When he didn't do well and sought a way out, his father gave him an ultimatum: the medical profession or the clergy. So he chose to study to become a clergyman thinking that a country clergyman might have a rather easy life. He didn't stick it out and instead became engrossed with science mainly in the study of geology and botany.
When given the chance to join the expedition of the Beagle, he took it and thus began the journey that led him to indulge further in his studies of geology and natural sciences.

The book is interesting if you can stick with it although it gave me only a slight glimpse of the side of the man I truly wanted to see but a good book for the road to Galapagos.

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