The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication. Charles Darwin.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication

New York: Orange Judd, 1868. 1st American Edition. Two volume FIRST AMERICAN EDITION of “ONE OF DARWIN’S MOST INFLUENTIAL AND WIDE-RANGING BOOKS. IT IS ALSO HIS LONGEST AND MOST DETAILED WORK” (Freeman, The Works of Charles Darwin, 879). It is also “the only section of Darwin's big book on the origin of species which was printed in his lifetime and corresponding to its first two intended chapters” (ibid).

Darwin’s intent was “to provide overwhelming evidence for the ubiquity of variation” (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). “This work is notable not only for Darwin's prodigious amassing of facts concerning artificial selection of traits to demonstrate an analogy for natural selection. It also advances his hypothesis of pangenesis and gemmules, as the agents of the inheritance of characteristics” (DSB).

Darwin’s hypothesis of pangenesis, “here expounded for the first time” (Freeman). Was the by “means of which [he] tried to frame an explanation of hereditary resemblance, inheritance of acquired characters, atavism, and regeneration. It was a brave attempt to account for a number of phenomena which were beyond the bounds of scientific knowledge in his day, such as fertilization by the union of sperm with egg, the mechanism of chromosomal inheritance, and the development of the embryo by successive cell division. His hypothesis of pangenesis could not therefore give a permanently acceptable account of the multitude of phenomena it was designed to explain. It was, however, a point of departure for particulate theories of inheritance in the latter nineteenth century' (DSB, Freeman). “Other chapters consider "the amount and nature of the changes which animals or plants have undergone whilst under man's dominion", employing observations of inheritance within a species in an effort to understand the causes of variability” (ibid).

While, as said, Darwin’s two volumes “were intended to provide overwhelming evidence for the ubiquity of variation” they also “incidentally answer[ed] Lyell and Gray, who maintained that variations had not occurred purely by chance but were providentially directed. Darwin showed that breeders indeed selected from a vast array of minute random variations. He gave numerous instances of the causes of variability, including the direct effect of the conditions of life, reversion, the effects of use and disuse, saltation, prepotency, and correlated growth” (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). Item #1224

CONDITION & DETAILS: Two volumes. Complete. 8vo (18.7 x 12.2 cm). Vol. I: [6], x, [494], 14 Vol. II: [4],viii, [568], 12. Solidly bound in original publisher’s green cloth; gilt-lettered at the spine. Scuffing at the edges with minor chipping at the head and foot of the spine. Clean and bright throughout both volumes. Very good.

Price: $600.00

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