This Thing of Darkness
7 journalers for this copy...
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."
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.
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.
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. :-)
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:
Thanks to all for sending it!
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...
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.
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:)