Darwin's Illness

Ralph Colp Jr.
Foreword by James Moore

Details: 368 pages    6.125 x 9.25
Cloth: $44.95   ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-3231-3   
Pubdate: 6/22/2008
Review(s): 4 available

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The most authoritative and informed work on the subject

"An important enhancement and expansion of a work that has long been a classic as the authoritative, painstakingly researched presentation of the recurring episodes of ill health that afflicted Charles Darwin. Colp has not only added more freshly researched detail, he has now given two new dimensions to the book."--David Kohn, General Editor, Darwin Digital Library of Evolution, American Museum of Natural History, and Oxnam Professor of the History of Science, Emeritus, Drew University

"Colp is the expert on Darwin's illnesses. His book provides the reader with up-to-date knowledge of these illnesses, what apparently caused them, and what their effects were on Darwin and those around him."--Duncan M. Porter, Virginia Tech University

"Darwin's Illness may not be the end, but it is unquestionably the vital starting-point for all future reflection on the health of history's most famous sick scientist." -- James Moore, coauthor of Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist

The year 2009 will mark the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. From 1840 to his death in 1882, Darwin was constantly plagued by chronic illnesses that allowed him to work only a few hours at a time and by an obsession with his physical health. Was this the psychosomatic product of stress resulting from the development and public reception to his theory of evolution or the result of a disease or parasite obtained during the world traveler's excursions?

In 1977 Ralph Colp Jr. argued persuasively for the former explanation in his book To Be an Invalid: The Illness of Charles Darwin, now out of print, but considered to be one of the century's most important works on Darwin's life. Expanding and reworking his earlier arguments to take into account new information (including Darwin's "Diary of Health," included as an appendix), Darwin's Illness paints a more intimate portrait of the nature and possible causes of Darwin's lifelong illness, of the ways he and Victorian physicians tried treating it, and how it influenced his scientific work and relations with his family and friends.

Ralph Colp Jr., M.D., is assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and senior attending psychiatrist at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.

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