Finished reading on March 25th, 2014
I started reading this book yesterday, on officially the second day of my vacation (although unofficially it was 5th) and I can say that I only put it down on the account of three activities – sleeping, eating and going to a job interview. The book is about the authors attempt to retrace Charles Darwin’s travels in South America in the beginning of 19th century.
Charles Darwin spent five years in his twenties on an expedition on HMS Beagle, that first took him to South America. There he got acquainted with the lush green rain-forests of Brazil, the dull Patagonia, the flora and fauna of that wondrous place and the native people, the urban culture of 19th century etc.
Eric Simons, while in his twenties, happened across Darwin’s “Voyage of the Beagle”, and took some time to visit the places where the great Naturalist had been, before coming up with the theory of Evolution. Simons’ writing is very fluent and quite descriptive and makes one wish to go hiking as well.
” The science was pretty much the extent of what I knew until I happened across The Voyage of the Beagle for the first time, and read about the iguana-lobbing, and immediately went green with nineteenth century naturalist envy. The guy got to chase, catch, and throw iguanas – repeatedly- and call it research!”
I don’t usually read travel-diaries or travel writing, unless it’s about polar expeditions. this one however seemed like it might be an interesting thing to read, and it certainly was – it’s not just “took a bus, had a sand-witch and saw this…”, rather Simons goes a lot deeper:
First you get an insight into young Darwin’s travels,activities and thoughts and opinions.
Secondly you get to read about the nature and life in South America.
So why not just read Darwin’s own writing? Well I certainly will be doing that soon as well.
Although Darwin is a large part of it, you also get to see how it differs from what Darwin saw, whether it be good or bad.
“When you’re traveling, sometimes you want so badly for your own trip to fit into everyone else’s trip.”
– Eric Simons
I enjoyed this book a lot, although the general undertone didn’t seem to cheerful (which might have been because it’s overcast where I am).
Anyhow, if you’re usually a reader of the travel diaries of historic discoverers and scientists, you might find this book interesting as well. Or if you’d like to know a little bit more about Darwin, but don’t want to read any of his works just yet, give this one a go!
Although Darwin traveled further after South America, this book only deals with the part when he was there. Can’t have too much of a good thing I guess.