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Charles Darwin : a new life

Author: John Bowlby
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, 1991. ©1990.
Edition/Format:   Print book : Biography : English : First American editionView all editions and formats
Summary:
Describes Darwin's work as a naturalist, and presents an intimate portrait of him as a son, brother, father, and husband.
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Genre/Form: Biography
Biographies
Named Person: Charles Darwin; Charles Darwin; Charles Darwin
Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: John Bowlby
ISBN: 0393029409 9780393029406
OCLC Number: 21600471
Description: xiv, 511 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Contents: Brief chronology --
Prologue --
Two distinguished grandfathers : Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood --
Parents to genius --
A tragic loss; a formidable presence --
A vulnerable personality --
Science and natural history at Edinburgh 1825-1827 --
Sport, beetles and philosophy at Cambridge 1828-1831 --
A great and uncommon opportunity 1831 --
Opportunity seized 1832-1834 --
A troubled spirit 1832-1834 --
A voyage grievously too long 1834-1836 --
Geology carries the day 1832-1836 --
From prospective parson to aspiring scientist 1832-1836 --
Three fertile years 1837-1839 --
Darwin's revolutionary ideas --
The day of days 1838-1839 --
A bitter mortification 1839-1842 --
Early years at Down 1842-1846 --
Too dispirited to write 1847-1849 --
Grief never wholly obliterated 1850-1853 --
Everlasting barnacles, a rising star and a dark horse 1853-1854 --
Sometimes in triumph, sometimes in despair 1855-1858 --
My abominable volume 1858-1859 --
Awful battles and staunch friends 1860-1862 --
A fearful disappointment 1863-1867 --
An odious spectre 1868-1871 --
A perfectly uniform life 1871-1872 --
Almost an Indian summer 1873-1877 --
Last years 1878-1882 --
Epilogue --
Appendix : Darwin's ill health in the light of current research.
Responsibility: John Bowlby.

Abstract:

Describes Darwin's work as a naturalist, and presents an intimate portrait of him as a son, brother, father, and husband.

In this volume, John Bowlby presents Charles Darwin - son, brother, husband, and father - in an intimate and human portrait. Bowlby, an eminent British psychologist, forges well past other biographies by showing Darwin not only in his work as a naturalist, but also as a figure in a small but distinguished circle of intellectuals. He follows the drama of Darwin's discoveries in the Galapagos Islands and Australia and the painful years that followed in virtual isolation at Down House where Darwin wrote the books that ignited controversies persisting to this day. He places Darwin's brilliant unfolding of evolutionary biology within a vivid portrait of Victorian society, a world in ferment during the years in which the foundations of modern biological science were formed. Darwin was considered by friends, colleagues, and family a thoroughly pleasant person and a charming and dignified companion. His outer serenity, however, masked a deep struggle. Throughout his life, Darwin was plagued by, in his own words, "vomiting...shivering, dying sensations, ringing in ears," as well as heart palpitations, blurred vision, and hysterical crying fits. Darwin's illness has baffled historians and spawned endless speculation as to its cause. John Bowlby here convincingly aruges that Darwin's chronic illness was the result of repressed emotions generated by his mother's death. "My mother died in July 1817," wrote Charles Darwin in his autobiography, "when I was a little over eight years old, and it is odd that I can hardly remember anything about her." Drawing on his groundbreaking research into the effects of a parent's death on the child's later development, Bowlby identifies the loss of Darwin's mother as the root of the illness that often deliberated the great scientist and disrupted his revolutionary work. As Bowlby points out, Darwin's suppressed grief over the loss of his mother is most astonishingly revelaed in a letter written by him to a cousin whose young wife had died: "Never in my life having lost one near relation, I daresay I cannot imagine how severe grief such as yours must be." Darwin's illness was not incidental to the life and work of the man. Darwin was obsessed with his health and with the health of his children. He was wracked with guilt for passing along to his children his "wretched stomach," particularly when his eldest daughter Annie, died of "a smart bilious gastric fever." And yet, somehow, between bouts of illness that rendered him a semi-invalid, Darwin set forth, in Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, his theories that would turn the scientific world upside down. In this sympathetic and personal biography, John Bowlby lays bare the very real and vulnerable side of a great man. -- from dust jacket.

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