The Autobiography of Charles Darwin
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"My chief enjoyment and sole employment throughout life has been scientific work; and the excitement from such work makes me for the time forget, or drives quite away, my daily discomfort."
Darwin was a humble, mild-mannered Englishman whose great power of observation and critical analysis revolutionised our view of the wo...more
Darwin's actual autobiography is pretty short and makes up only half of the volume. Not a riveting autobiography, but his rambles were pleasant enough, and there were a couple amusing anecdotes. I enjoyed it.
The remaining half is mostly devoted to letters and articles about some controversy between Darwin and Butler which I had absolutely no interest in, and the rest are a couple of Darwin's personal notes, which wa...more
I wish there would have been more details about his voyage through the Galapagos Islands, and I guess I'll have to read the Beagle book for that.
The one thing I came away with: Darwin believed that happiness was our natural state and the proof was in the many ways we seek out anything that gives us pleasure...more
That said, this is not riveting read. It was published posthumously, edited by his son and later his grandda...more
Apart from the general outline of Darwin’s life, which is of course interesting in itself, there are also a number of charming anecd...more
After all this, he managed 120 pages of au...more
My Review: Very few books take me this long to read (4 weeks or so). Alison's had...more
We learn about his childhood's interest in (already!) insects, the authoritative figure of his father, and his calling as a clergyman up to the crucial turn in his life: the journey onboard the HMS Beagle. He then moves on to talk about his career and the social prestige he benefited, describing some high intellectual figures...more
This is possibly one of the best books I have ever read. Darwin's ability to self reflect is unmatched by anyone I have read to date. What a treat it is to be allowed to travel through the mind of a humble, compassionate, genius or a man who wrote with his whole heart. This book was originally in...more
I feel I have not been able to learn anything about Charles Darwin the person apart that he was very polite.
That is nice virtue, and I am certainly not looking into an autobiography to find an extension of gossip column - however he was a man that was so much under attack - you would expect he would be writing something about those, or something more about the Beagle voyage (which he...more
However, as with his 'Journey of the Beagle' and 'Origin of Spieces' I find his writing style very dry and difficult to read.
The portions of the book in which he talks about his family, childhood experiences and friends are very interesting and give the reader an excellent idea of his early life. Sadly the latter chapters of the book slip...more
Darwin treats himself as his own specimen. I think it is one of the most honest autobiographies I have ever read. Darwin is unapologetic in his passions and unafraid to recount his mistakes. Whether a fan of his research or not, I think the work gives an inside look into a man who was not afraid to pursue his passions, his intellect and the ramifications of both despite physical sickness, social push-back and years of what he himself describes as 'hard labor'.
I think this is a must re...more
i am not a scientific person, and this book is mostly about this part of his life...but Darwin
taught me something deeply insurmountable, that it will never be forgotten: it was in his last chapter
when Darwin was young, he loved art, music, reading poetry/shakespeare. as he aged and continued working, he never took time to enjoy activities. after writing/working so much, he tried enjoying these activities, and literally hated them or had no interest at all. Darwin wrote that it seemed the area[s...more
And anyone interested in going into the field of naturalism or biology/botany/zoology I would GREATLY re...more
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...By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported, (and that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become), that the men at that time were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost uncomprehensible by us, that the Gospels cannot be proved to have been written simultaneously with the events, that they differ in many important details, far too important, as it seemed to me, to be admitted as the usual inaccuracies of eyewitnesses; by such reflections as these, which I give not as having the least novelty or value, but as they influenced me, I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. The fact that many false religions have spread over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some weight with me. Beautiful as is the morality of the New Testament, it can be hardly denied that its perfection depends in part on the interpretation which we now put on metaphors and allegories.
But I was very unwilling to give up my belief... Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished.
And this is a damnable doctrine.”