Time to read Darwin

2009 is Darwin Year, among other things, because it’s 150 years since On The Origin of Species was published. I’m a little late mentioning this, because the commemoration really started last July, on the anniversary of the day Darwin felt pressed to lay claim to natural selection. So one of my resolutions for this year is to finally read the Darwin omnibus edited by Edward O. Wilson, From So Simple A Beginning.

The cover boasts that it contains Darwin’s four greatest works: The Voyage of the Beagle, On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, and The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.

I beg to differ. I think his greatest work is The Formation of Vegetable Mould, because that’s the only Darwin book I have read, though it’s been a while. The book describes how earthworms create soil. I was struck by how clear and engaging his writing is. After I learned about nightcrawlers pulling leaves into their burrows, I learned to pause and listen and look on warm evenings when you can hear the leaves rustling. (That’s not going to happen for a while.)

So now all I have to do is wedge the omnibus out of its slipcase by Darwin Day and start reading…

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