The Descent of Man and Selection in relation to Sex

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Author: Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882)

Year: 1871

Publisher: John Murray

Place: London

Description:

2 volumes. viii+423+16 publisher's advertisements pages dated January 1871 with figures. viii+475+16 publisher's advertisements pages dated January 1871 with figures and index. Small octavos (7 1/2" x 5 1/4") bound in original publisher's green cloth with gilt lettering to spine and blind stamped borders enclosing panel on boards. Untrimmed edges. (Freeman 939, p. 128-132) First edition, second state. The first issue of The Descent of Man had a print-run of just 2,500 copies. It was published in February 1871, closely followed in March 1871 by the second issue printing of a further 2,000 copies.

The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex is a book by English naturalist Charles Darwin, first published in 1871, which applies revolutionary theory to human evolution, and details his theory of sexual selection, a form of biological adaptation distinct from, yet interconnected with, natural selection. The book discusses many related issues, including evolutionary psychology. evolutionary ethics, evolutionary musicology, differences between human races, differences between sexes, the dominant role of women in mate choice, and the relevance of the evolutionary theory to society.

 In January 1871, Thomas Huxley's former disciple, the anatomist St. George Mivart, had published On the Genesis of Species as a critique of natural selection. Anonymously in a Quarterly Review article, he claimed that the Descent of Man would unsettle "our half educated classes" and talked of people doing as they pleased, breaking laws and customs. An infuriated Darwin guessed that Mivart was the author and, thinking "I shall soon be viewed as the most despicable of men", looked for an ally. In September, Huxley wrote a cutting review of Mivart's book and article which a relieved Darwin told him "How you do smash Mivart's theology. He may write his worst & he will never mortify me again". As 1872 began, Mivart politely inflamed the argument again, writing "wishing you very sincerely a happy new year" while wanting a disclaimer of the "fundamental intellectual errors" in the Descent of Man. This time, Darwin ended the correspondence.

Condition: 

Spine ends rubbed, edge wear, stained and soiling to covers, volume one lacking back end paper, inner hinges cracked in both volumes, but holding. Volume two with dethatched front end paper, corners bumped and rubbed Internal fingering and soiled else a fair set.