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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Top 10 Berin 2018
J├╝rgen Scheunemann
Progress: 157/192 pages
Summer Morning, Summer Night
Ray Bradbury
Progress: 84/176 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Four Revenge Tragedies: The Spanish Tragedy, The Revenger's Tragedy, The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois, and The Atheist's Tragedy
Cyril Tourneur, Thomas Kyd, Thomas Middleton, George Chapman, Katharine Eisaman Maus
Progress: 236/464 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet
Elaine Feinstein
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Grayson Perry
Jacky Klein
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 576/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Francis Darwin (ed.)

Life and Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume 1: By Charles Darwin - Illustrated - Charles Darwin

This was the first published biography of Charles Darwin, as edited by one of his children. It's a little unusual in format, containing as it does, Darwin's (intended to be private) autobiography, a pile of Darwin's letters (up to 1860, the year Origin of Species was published), some memories from the editor and a final chapter by Huxley on the reception of Origin of species, from the perspective given by a 30 years' interval.


Previously I've found letters collections to give a lot of insight into the character of their authors, more so then their biographers do. The letters here make clear Darwin's conflict between his egotistical desire for "credit" and his Christianity-derived value of humility, which wins out in terms of his behaviour regarding Wallace. They also demonstrate Darwin's focus on scientific matters and his method of working as well as his ill-health through much of his adult life. I'm not sure I'd recommend this as a starting place for Darwin studies, though. Instead read The Voyage of the Beagle and Bowlby's biography first, (bearing in mind that the latter's Freudian theory of Darwin's character is less convincing than the theory that Darwin was Aspie, though).