On the Origin of Species (Revised edition)

ISBN : 9780199219223

Charles Darwin; Gillian Beer
432 Pages
129 x 196 mm
Pub date
Nov 2008
Oxford World's Classics


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  • Charles Darwin revolutionized our ideas about the natural world and our place in it by introducing the concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest, and his ideas still provoke controversy today.
  • Editor Gillian Beer has writtten extensively about Darwin and about scientific writing in its cultural context. Her wide-ranging introduction considers the development of Darwin's ideas, the scientific context, the nature of his theories and the impact of his work on his contemporaries.
  • Includes a Register of Writers referred to in the text of the Origin, a Glossary of Scientific Terms and an Index.

New to this Edition:

  • A Postscript to the Introduction considers in detail the first reactions to the work and Darwin's responses to criticism; it considers the controversy in the light of the recent revival of Creationism and Intelligent Design and shows how little has changed.
  • New and up-to-date bibliography.
  • Reset text.

can we doubt ... that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind?'

In the Origin of Species (1859) Darwin challenged many of the most deeply held beliefs of the Western world. His insistence on the immense length of the past and on the abundance of life-forms, present and extinct, dislodged man from his central position in creation and called into question the role of the Creator. He showed that new species are achieved by natural selection, and that absence of plan is an inherent part of the evolutionary process.

Darwin's prodigious reading, experimentation, and observations on his travels fed into his great work, which draws on material from the Galapagos Islands to rural Staffordshire, from English back gardens to colonial encounters. The present edition provides a detailed and accessible discussion of his theories and adds an account of the immediate responses to the book on publication. The resistances as well as the enthusiasms of the first readers cast light on recent controversies, particularly concerning questions of design and descent.


Note on the Text
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Charles Darwn


Appendix 1: Register of Writers
Appendix 2: Glossary of Scientific Terms

About the author: 

Charles Darwin
Edited by Gillian Beer, Professor Emeritus at the University of Cambridge
Dame Gillian Beer is Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Literature. Her Darwin's Plots (1983; second edition 2000) was followed by Open Fields: Science in Cultural Encounter (1996). More recently she has been working on Carroll's Alice books in the context of nineteenth-century intellectual controversies and a new collection of her essays on literature and science is scheduled for 2008.

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