martes, 8 de junio de 2010

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

After reading The Origin of Species and The Voyage of the Beagle, I found Charles Darwin's autobiography to be the liveliest of the three works. Its condensed format is likely responsible for the lively feel, with interesting anecdotes filling the book. His self-effacing writing (he calls his autobiography "short and dull") in many parts causes one to think: is this an attempt at humor, modesty, or honesty?

Darwin is clearly aiming to take an analytical view of his life. In his introductory paragraph, he says "I have attempted to write... as if I were a dead man in another world looking back at my own life." His conclusion consists of recapitulating in a few sentences why a man with such "moderate qualities" should have had such a great influence in science. However, this book is not only about asking "why Darwin?". Also included are many amusing anecdotes, especially in his childhood. He talks about being tricked by friends, acting cruelly once by kicking a puppy (but not very hard), and taking long walks alone. Whether you are looking for more insight into Darwin's personality, a few good stories, or some comments on reactions to his master work, his autobiography is a good read.

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