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Charles Darwin: The Power of Place. Volume II of a Biography. .

Charles Darwin: The Power of Place. Volume II of a Biography. Janet Browne. Jonathan Cape. [pounds sterling]25.00. 591 pages. ISBN 0-224-04212-2. With this second volume Prof. Brown brings to a conclusion her monumental and definitive biography of Darwin. She begins in 1858, the year before Darwin published his ground-breaking book, On the Origin of Species. She contrasts his comfortable life with the revolutionary ideas he entertained. 'Much of the lasting fascination of Darwin's life story', she writes, 'surely lies in the relationship between this prolific inner world of the mind and the private and public lives that he created for himself'. He had a vivid imagination and an 'outstanding' power of analysis. He also had a rural retreat in Kent from which, like a good Victorian, he could relate to others through letters. All this protected him from the storm he was about to unleash: it is this 'power of place' which the biographer finds so important to an understanding of Darwin. Naturally much of this volum e is concerned with Origin of Species but the author also gives us a full portrait of Darwin after 1859, of Darwin as an 'experimenter' and as a reluctant Victorian celebrity. This is a 'life and times' biography of the man and his world in the grand manner, written by a scientist who has a command of English which many non-scientists must envy. This is a great task brought to a happy conclusion.
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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Feb 1, 2003
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