Introduction by Edward J. Larson
Perhaps the most readable and accessible of the great works of scientific inquiry, The Origin of Species sold out its first printing on the very day it was published in 1859. Theologians quickly labeled Charles Darwin the most dangerous man in England and, as the Saturday Review noted, the uproar over the book quickly “passed beyond the bounds of the study and lecture-room into the drawing-room and the public street.” Based largely on Darwin’s experience as a naturalist while on a five-year voyage aboard H. M. S. Beagle, The Origin of Species set forth a theory of evolution and natural selection that challenged contemporary beliefs about divine providence and the immutability of species. This Modern Library edition includes a Foreword by the Pulitzer Prize–winning science historian Edward J. Larson, an introductory historical sketch, and a glossary Darwin later added to the original text.
About the Author
Frederick Burkhardt (1912 2007), the founder of the Darwin Correspondence Project, was president of Bennington College, Vermont, 1947 57, and president of the American Council of Learned Societies, 1957 74. Before founding the Darwin Correspondence Project in 1974, he was already at work on an edition of the papers of the philosopher William James. He received the Modern Language Association of America's first Morton N. Cohen Award for a Distinguished Edition of Letters in 1991, the Founder's Medal of the Society for the History of Natural History in 1997, the Thomas Jefferson Gold Medal of the American Philosophical Society in 2003 and a special citation for outstanding service to the history of science from the History of Science Society in 2005.
Edward J. Larson is a professor of history and law at Pepperdine University and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion" and several other books.