Item #459 The Descent of Man. Charles Darwin.

The Descent of Man

"The sole object of this work is to consider, firstly, whether man, like every other species, is descended from some pre-existing form; secondly, the manner of his development; and thirdly, the value of the differences between the so-called races of man...

“During many years it has seemed to me highly probable that sexual selection has played an important part in differentiating the races of man; but in my Origin of Species I contented myself by merely alluding to this belief. When I came to apply this view to man, I found it indispensable to treat the whole subject in full detail."

FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE (one of only 2500 copies) in original cloth of Darwin's seminal work on the evolution of man.

"This is really two works. The first demolished the theory that the universe was created for Man, while in the second Darwin presented a mass of evidence in support of his earlier hypothesis regarding sexual selection... In the Origin, Darwin had avoided discussing the place occupied by homo sapiens in the scheme of natural selection, stating only that `light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.' Twelve years later he made good his promise with The Descent of Man, in which he compared man's physical and psychological characteristics to similar traits in apes and other animals, showing how even man's mind and moral sense could have developed through evolutionary processes. In discussing man's ancestry, Darwin did not claim that man was directly descended from apes as we know them today, but stated simply that the extent ancestors of Homo sapiens would have to be classified among the primates; however, this statement, as misinterpreted by the popular press, caused a furor second only to that raised by the Origin" (Norman 599). "The word `evolution' occurs, for the first time in any of Darwin's works, on page 2 of the first volume of the first edition" (Freeman, p.129).

London: John Murray, 1871. Octavo, original cloth. Rear joint of volume I split but still holding; rear hinge of volume II tender; wear to spine ends of both volumes. Small early bookseller's perforated stamp on front free endpaper (vol II); text generally very clean with foxing to endpapers of volume II. A good copy in original cloth.

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