Meirav Rath's Reviews > The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals

The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals by Charles Darwin
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May 12, 08

bookshelves: zoology
Recommended for: historians, Darwin fans, human behavior fans
Read in May, 2008

This book is more a historical document than a scientific paper, by today's requirements for scientific documents.
Darwing collects here his notes on the expressions of humans with a single chapter about animals and some referrences to monkeys, so the title is highly misleading (it annoyed me, anyways).

Despite that, this work is at the root of understanding both human and animal behavior and the three principles of expression are now evidently the base of every modern theory on animal and human behavior and that, in itself, gives this book a historical value.

Darwing depicts his notes on his own children, on various and un-measured sightings of human and animal beahvior (like "I once saw a girl doing ___ " or "my neighbour's dog once ___ ") which nower days would be completely unfit for scientific research. Those were the days, though, and for anyone interested or amused by the development of scientific thinking and research this book is an enjoyable gem.

Another historical value this book has is in the fact that, in order to investigate human expression in human societies relatively unexposed and influenced by Eurpoean man, Darwin had a small army of informants at remote Biritsh colonies investigating and reporting of their experiences with the local natives. These informants were judges, policemen, missionaries and wives of various officials. With these times long gone (thankfully), it's a reminder and a documentation of the spirits of the time and the way these far-away cultures, still unchanged at the time, behaved.

This book is not an easy read as the english is that of Victorian times and often words that mean one thing to us mean another, when he author is concerned, and the unabridged version hold a lot of repeating and coarse writing that's not for readers who just want an easy book to stare at.

Still, it's a good book, and for historians with a love for human studies, it's a good book.
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message 1: by Nathan (new) - added it

Nathan Nifong Wow, that was an excellent review. everything you say about the readability to modern engish speakers and Darwin's loose observations is correct. It is indeed a strange book with primarily historical value.


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