Charles Darwin: A New Life

John Bowlby, Author W. W. Norton & Company $24.95 (511p) ISBN 978-0-393-02940-6
This new biography will strongly appeal both to those who know the life and work of Darwin (1809-1882) and to those less familiar with the famous naturalist and his theories of evolution and natural selection. The late Bowlby ( Personality and Mental Illness ), a British psychologist, meticulously details the family background, education, scientific discoveries and publications of a young man who nearly became a country parson but boarded the HMS Beagle instead. It's an impressive story, and Bowlby does an excellent job of explaining the scientific context of Darwin's The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man , drawing extensively from the correspondence and journals of their author and members of his professional and personal circles. Additionally, the book proposes a new theory: that Darwin's debilitating bad health and depression stemmed from the death of his mother in 1817. Bowlby suggests that this sudden and silence-shrouded bereavement, along with Darwin's difficult relationship with his father, were the psychological causes of his emotional breakdowns and episodes of boils, vomiting, elephantiasis, rashes and heart palpitations. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Paperback - 511 pages - 978-0-393-30930-0
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