An annotated Origin of Species

Hot off the press — Harvard University Press, that is: an annotated version of the first edition of On the Origin of Species.  James T. Costa, a professor of biology at Western Carolina University, has taken the first edition of The Origin and, page for page, annotated it with explanations, historical background, and so on.  You can download a sample group of pages from the website and have a look.  I’ll be ordering a copy, and my friends who have seen the pre-publication version give it a unanimous thumbs up.

7 Comments

  1. newenglandbob
    Posted May 27, 2009 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Very impressive work by Costa. I will definitely add this to my list. I wish he annotated the sixth edition which I am in the middle of reading now.

  2. Posted May 27, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    It looks interesting, but I will wait for the paperback.

  3. Anthony McCarthy
    Posted May 27, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I’ll have to wait for it to go into remainders. Though I do think it sounds like a fun and valuable book.

    I hope people read it, including the ultra-Darwinists on the blogs, most of whom don’t seem to have. And then I hope some of them read something a bit more recent, like about genetic drift, though you’ve got to have a bit more math to understand that.

  4. David Ratnasabapathy
    Posted May 27, 2009 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    He should have done the sixth edition. I’ve read both, and the sixth edition makes a way stronger case for evolution.

    Of course the first has a clearer discussion of natural selection, but that doesn’t make it any better.

    The first’s writing style is clunky too.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted May 27, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      But it’s not the 150th anniversary of the sixth.

  5. Posted May 28, 2009 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    I’ve been looking for something like this – though I ended up caving and buying a cheap copy without a modern update. Will look to get this in the future though.

  6. Saul Wences
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 2:37 am | Permalink

    Awesome! I bought “The Origin” about 2 years ago, but only read up to page 50. I put it down because I wasn’t quite sure what was iffy-logic or proven false (like his concepts of heredity). But this is perfect, though I had always hoped that Dawkins would be the one who undertook this challenge. It’s good to know someone has done it though. I’ve read most of the excerpt, and I’m almost certain that I’m gonna order it. Wahwahwoozie indeed!


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  1. […] Origin to biology students, I would use two books.  I’ve already mentioned the first one in an earlier post: The Annotated Origin by James Costa, a facsimile of the first edition, garnished with copious […]

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