Darwin's On the Origin of Species

Darwin's On the Origin of Species

A Modern Rendition
Daniel Duzdevich, foreword by Olivia Judson
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/24/2014
Format: Paperback 1 b&w illus
ISBN: 978-0-253-01170-1
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Charles Darwin’s most famous book On the Origin of Species is without question, one of the most important books ever written. While even the grandest works of Victorian English can prove difficult to modern readers, Darwin wrote his text in haste and under intense pressure. For an era in which Darwin is more talked about than read, Daniel Duzdevich offers a clear, modern English rendering of Darwin’s first edition. Neither an abridgement nor a summary, this version might best be described as a "translation" for contemporary English readers. A monument to reasoned insight, the Origin illustrates the value of extensive reflection, carefully gathered evidence, and sound scientific reasoning. By removing the linguistic barriers to understanding and appreciating the Origin, this edition aims to bring 21st-century readers into closer contact with Darwin’s revolutionary ideas.

Author Bio

Daniel Duzdevich is a biologist, studying the interactions between proteins and DNA. Duzdevich received an award from the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans in 2012.

Olivia Judson is an evolutionary biologist and award-winning writer based at Imperial College, London. Her first book, Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex has been translated into more than 20 languages including Estonian, Korean and Turkish; it was also made into a television show. Since then, her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the Guardian, the Financial Times, and National Geographic; for two years, she wrote a weekly online blog about evolutionary biology for the New York Times. She is presently working on her next book.


“This clear, modern English "translation" of Darwin’s famous first edition brings 21st-century readers into closer contact with his revolutionary ideas, illustrating the value of extensive reflection, carefully gathered evidence, and sound scientific reasoning. ”

“There is a long tradition of 'translating' or retelling works in the humanities—Charles Lamb's prose versions of Shakespeare's plays and the multiple renderings of the Bible into modern English come immediately to mind. This book may be a first for a scientific work, where an attempt is made to translate a text almost line-by-line and preserve each point in the original. Duzdevich has done a nice job indeed. Even for those who have read the Origin many times, this retelling has the ability to change one's focus, so to speak, and in so doing reinvigorate elements of the original text.”
 — James T. Costa, author of The Annotated Origin

“Students have great difficulty understanding Darwin's Origin—as do many trained biologists. . . . Daniel Duzdevich's modern rendition of the 1859 text is a most useful addition to the general understanding of this major revision in biology. He has presented a full account of Darwin's ideas in the original and in a form that makes them far more understandable to the reader who is not a specialist in evolutionary theory.”
 — Walter Bock, Columbia University

“The first thing I learned in college is that every generation needs its own translation of Homer’s epics. I was taken aback, but soon saw the wisdom of that aphorism. A few years later, I struggled with Darwin’s Victorian prose; the language barrier posed by the original Origin of Species added to my doubts that I could wrap my untutored mind around the great man’s thoughts. Duzdevich’s rendering of Darwin’s epic into modern English is as meaningful a contribution as Lattimore’s then-modern translation of the Iliad. May this ‘translation’ attract many more readers to Darwin’s founding statement of evolution!”
 — Niles Eldredge, Curator Emeritus, The American Museum of Natural History and author of Darwin: Discovering the Tree

“[This] modernized version provided by Daniel Duzdevich, a doctoral student of biology at Columbia University, doesn’t meddle with Darwin’s theories or basic exposition and so his edited Origin remains a weighty trek, but he has made the way a lot smoother.”
 — Foreword Reviews

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Olivia Judson
A Note to the Reader
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859) by Charles Darwin
Chapter 1: Variation under Domestication
Chapter 2: Variation in Nature
Chapter 3: The Struggle for Existence
Chapter 4: Natural Selection
Chapter 5: Variation
Chapter 6: Difficulties with the Theory
Chapter 7: Instinct
Chapter 8: Hybrids
Chapter 9: The Imperfection of the Geological Record
Chapter 10: The Succession of Organisms in the Geological Record
Chapter 11: The Geographical Distribution of Life
Chapter 12: Geographical Distribution of Life, Continued
Chapter 13: Affinities between Organisms; Morphology, Embryology, and Rudimentary Organs
Chapter 14: Summary and Conclusion
Recommended Further Reading

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