On the Origin of Species

On the Origin of Species



The Pequod Review:

Obviously On the Origin of Species was a revolutionary science book — it formed the basis for modern biology, and was a transformative work on evolution and natural selection. But what is most underrated is Charles Darwin’s astonishingly beautiful prose:

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. 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.


Nevertheless so profound is our ignorance, and so high our presumption, that we marvel when we hear of the extinction of an organic being; and as we do not see the cause, we invoke cataclysms to desolate the world, or invent laws on the duration of the forms of life!

By the way, the comprehensive Charles Darwin online website is an extraordinary resource.