Peripatetic, itinerant, eclectic musings about books, politics, history, language, culture, and anything else that interests me.
I don’t know if Charles Darwin is part of the curriculum in high schools today, but when I was in high school in the 1960s, he wasn’t. And somehow I got through the ensuing four decades without ever reading any of his four most famous books: The Voyage of the Beagle, On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, and The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.
Time to fix that. I ordered the recently published one-volume collection of all four works, titled From So Simple a Beginning, edited by Edward O. Wilson and containing Darwin’s original woodcut illustrations. The title is taken from Darwin’s words in On the Origin of Species:
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
I have gotten through about three-quarters of The Voyage of the Beagle. Never would I have imagined that this book would be so enthralling and addicting to read. This is not some dry scientific tome. It’s the granddaddy of all travel and nature books — and I love travel and nature books.