The book that I will tell you about today does not praise Charles Darwin's knowledge and sustains his arguments in one way or another. Creation: The True Story Of Charles Darwin is a biographical book written by Randal Keynes, the great-great grandson of the one and only man who developed The Origin of Species.We get to see how Darwin was, through a magnifying glass, as we explore his private writings and his family letters, but the focus is always on the family - his wife and his children. From his letters to his wife and his close family friends, you can clearly see how much he has adored his better half and loved truly his children.
A great "earthquake" is produced in the family relationship when his daughter Anna gets ill and eventually dies of what it seems to be (with the knowledge of today) tuberculosis. From that moment on it seems that Charles is unable to come back to his natural stage of family bliss... It did not help also the fact that his wife - Emma Darwin - was of strong Christian faith and that he was determined to show that science is the one that prevails. I find it wonderful that though they had different opinions on life they still loved eachother dearly and held the family together. The lack of communication though deepened the sorrow of Charles and it was until the very day of his death that he thought frequently of Anna - their lost treasure.
"We have lost the joy of the household, and the solace of our old age: she must have known how much we loved her; oh that she could now know how deeply, how tenderly we do still and shall ever love her dear joyous face. Blessings on her." (C.D. April 30, 1851)
Emma believed that she will be reunited with her but Charles opinion on the matter was quite different... The book shows Charles human side and it is refreshing to see a different side of him than the one we usually are taught at school.
|Instagram photo from when I was enjoying the book - https://instagram.com/thetwistedredladybug/|
- When Emma was due to give birth, her sister Elizabeth came to be with her, and Charles engaged a doctor to attend as accoucheur. There were different views at the time about childbirth and the pain of delivery. Some consisted "the endurance of pain during delivery essential to the fulfilment of the primaeval curse, consequent upon the temptation and fall of our first mother, Eve". But one obstetrician wrote that childbirth was a natural process and suggested that "no sentiment is more pregnant with mischief than the opinion which almost universally prevails, that this process is inevitably one of difficulty and danger".
- Many were disconcerned by the images the apparatus caught, but they had to accept them as objective, and truthful in that new way. One commentator wrote: "The common remark upon showing your sun picture to friends is, "Well it isn't a flattering portrait, but it must be like, you know!"" And George Cruikshank, the Punch cartoonist, wrote in a poem, "Photographic Phenomena", "Well, I never!" all cry; "it is cruelly like you!" But truth is unpleasant to prince and to peasant." The commentator warned ladies not to "make up a face for the ocassion" because the result was often disastrous. "If ladies, however, must study for a bit of effect, we will give them a recipe for a pretty expression of mouth. Let them place it as if they were going to say prunes". => Would that maybe be the antique version of a duckface? Try to say the word prunes and look at the mirror - tell me I'm wrong! :)
- Jane Taylor suggested that children should face up to death. "Let not young persons think this subject inapplicable to them. For, not to mention the uncertainty of life at every age, it is of the highest importance to be early impressed with just ideas of death and futurity; that it may become a subject of familiar and agreeable reflection, rather than of dread and terror." => I totally agree with this point of view. When we will have children I wish to teach them both about life and death from a very small age. This way they will know about it and get used to the idea that there is a natural course in life.
- In 1869, Henry James, then a young American visitor to London and as yet unknown as writer, accompanied a friend to lunch at Down. (...) "Darwin is the sweetest, simplest, gentlest old Englishman you ever saw... He said nothing wonderful and was wonderful in no way but in not being so."
- "I heard a child, little under four years old, when asked what was meant by being in good spirits, answer, "It is laughing, talking, and kissing." It would be difficult to give a truer and more practical definition."
If ever you get your hands on this book and if you love biography books of people living in times long forgotten, I recommend you to read it. Once you are done drop by and let me know what you thought of it. I, for one, am planning to see the movie made after this book. Who knows, maybe I will write about it! :)
The Twisted Red LadyBug