This Thing of Darkness

by Harry Thompson | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 075530280x Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingUrfinwing of Wolfsburg, Niedersachsen Germany on 9/29/2005
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7 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingUrfinwing from Wolfsburg, Niedersachsen Germany on Thursday, September 29, 2005

This book I bought for participation in the Man Booker Prize 2005 Roundabout started by barnhelm (see also thread in German).

SYNOPSIS (from amazon):
"This is an epic novel of sea-faring adventure set in the 19th century charting the life of Robert Fitzroy, the captain of 'The Beagle' and his passenger Charles Darwin. It combines adventure, emotion, ideas, humour and tragedy as well as illuminating the history of the 19th century. Fitzroy, the Christian Tory aristocrat, believed in the sanctity of the individual, but his beliefs destroyed his career and he committed suicide. Darwin, the liberal minor cleric doubts the truth of the Bible and develops his theory of evolution which is brutal and unforgiving in human terms. The two friends became bitter enemies as Darwin destroyed everything Fitzroy stood for."

Journal Entry 2 by pustefix from Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, January 07, 2006
whoo, seems like i'm the first person t finish it!

It took me quite a long time to read this, I never wanted to read more than two chapters together. Its quite appropriate really, as so much time passes and a lot of it is taken up by travel on the ships.

I did really like it though. as a geographer I found all the scientific debates fascinating. I also thought it was amazingly well researched, it really gave you a feeling of being there in the 19th century. And I think its absolutely typical of Britain to have passed on its chance to be world leaders in weather prediction because of petty personal politics.

as this is the second copy, I think ill lend it to a few non-BC people before I decide what to do with it.

Journal Entry 3 by Sternschnuppe28 from Flörsheim am Main, Hessen Germany on Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Dankeschön für´s Zusenden! Wow, was für ein großes dickes Buch! - ich freue mich schon sehr auf die Lektüre.

Journal Entry 4 by Sternschnuppe28 from Flörsheim am Main, Hessen Germany on Tuesday, March 14, 2006
a well-researched, vividly written historic novel with a great character development of Captain Robert FitzRoy and Charles Darwin. The epic focuses on FitzRoys´s life story, his expediditions on board the Beagle, his battle with manic depression, political career and especially his love and hate-relationship with Darwin. The two main characters stand for opposing views about the idea of God, creation and conception of mankind: whereas Fitzroy, the captain, believed that all men are equal under God and deserve the same respect, the scientist Darwin believed that men and nature evolved and are therefore not equal.

I enjoyed the book quite a lot - it was an excellent mixture of adventure and (natural) history.

"This thing of darkness" is passed by to elhamisabel at the Frankfurt Meet-up tonight.

Journal Entry 5 by elhamisabel from Frankfurt am Main, Hessen Germany on Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Sternschnuppe28 passed it on to me at tonight's meetup in Frankfurt.
Thank you! I have another ring here with me at the moment so it may take a while until I start it. Besides, it's not exactly a small book, so it may take even more time to finish it. I hope you'll be patient. :-)

Journal Entry 6 by elhamisabel from Frankfurt am Main, Hessen Germany on Saturday, April 22, 2006
I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm still reading this. It being a hardback, it's not possible to take it with me and read on the train so a very few pages each night before I turn off the light is all I manage at the moment. But I love this book!

Journal Entry 7 by elhamisabel from Frankfurt am Main, Hessen Germany on Monday, May 08, 2006
Finally finished.
Wow! Wow! I'm really overhelmed by this book. This was a great read despite the fact that it took me ages to complete it.

Everything was to my liking: the writing style, the story, the accuracy of the story, the different story angles he employed, everything was great.

I liked the writing style very much. It wasn't a modern style writing yet it wasn't too old fashioned and therefore stilted. It was just very well written.
The story itself, bringing scientific discoveries and biographies of different men alive, was so well done. I liked the way that he used episodes of roughly a year to spot on the lives of these men. This way one got most of the essential events in their lives and could deduct what life in general held for them at that point. Also that he didn't only use this one angle, from the point of view of FitzRoy, to tell the story but to intervine it with other character's point of views was a great way to let the reader see the benefits and vices the men FitzRoy and Darwin had had. Very well done!
Also the accuracy of what he described. I looked up a few of his references and they were all correct. It seems he had done a good job on research.
Funnily enough, the image of Tony Blair popped into my mind while reading the General Rosas' episode.
What I really enjoyed very much was the scientific debates between FitzRoy and Darwin. It made me aware that things that we take for normal these days, such as the evolution, were highly controversial at a time. Also, that so many other things, such as correct maps, were only made about 150 years ago.

I liked this book so much that I ordered a hardcover edition for myself.

On a side note, Harry Thompson died of cancer late last year. It's such a pity because he wasn't even old. And no, he didn't smoke:

http://books.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,1637326,00.html

Journal Entry 8 by CaptainCarrot from Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Friday, May 12, 2006
The book arrived today - well, what shall I read first, this one or "All for Love"? So let's compare the JEs... THIS ONE!
Thanks to all for sending it!

Journal Entry 9 by CaptainCarrot from Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Tuesday, June 20, 2006
A great book! Well researched, written with a good mixture of sympathy and distance concerning the main characters. I liked especially Fitzroy's and Darwin's scientific discussions - interesting, how the modern viewpoint deduces the inferiority of the savages, while the oldfashioned pious viewpoint insists on the equality of all humans before god (although Fitzroy's belief is shared by only a few of the missionaries in New Zealand).
Surely I will buy this book in German as a present for several people when it gets tranlated.
Now I try to find a next reader - seems to be difficult...

Journal Entry 10 by CaptainCarrot from Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Saturday, June 24, 2006
The book will travel now to Qantaqa - thank you! Today I read in the paper that Harriet died - I put the cutting into the book.

Journal Entry 11 by Qantaqa from Dachau, Bayern Germany on Monday, June 26, 2006
Arrived today - thanks a lot! It might be a while until I manage to read it, though!

Journal Entry 12 by Qantaqa from Dachau, Bayern Germany on Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Oh god, I'm so sorry! I just saw this book sitting on my bookshelf and realized that it's been here for ages! I'll try and read it in the next few days. If I don't manage to do that, I'll just have to send it on unread...

Journal Entry 13 by lesezeichen from Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Monday, April 09, 2007
The book has arrived, thanks to all of you!

Journal Entry 14 by lesezeichen from Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Saturday, April 28, 2007
An absolutely remarkable book which I enjoyed a lot, especially the first half (the voyage of the Beagle).

Well written, well researched, fascinating characters, why everything that elhamisabel has stated (yet, apparently, evolution is not that taken for granted today, in the US for example)...

And just like her I was shocked about the early death of the author, I would definitely have read more by him.

Journal Entry 15 by wingUrfinwing from Wolfsburg, Niedersachsen Germany on Thursday, May 17, 2007
TToD has safely returned to its home :o)
I see that you all wrote really enthusiastic JEs,
so I hope, I'll get to read and find out for myself soon...
But for now I'm just really pleased with my choice ;o) (for the 2005 Man Booker Roundabout:)

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