1859 EDITION: Fiction Review: On the Origin of Species

This week’s book is an enthralling epic narrative by Charles Darwin entitled On the Origin of Species, in which the protagonist travels on a fantastical voyage to a magical island off the coast of South America. While on the surface this story may seem to be one of a slightly eccentric man cavorting with animals, as would the character of a children’s book, it is my belief that much literary significance can be found in many of the characterizations. The character of Finch, for instance, represents the many facets of human nature through his ability to change the size of his beak. Furthermore, the character of Mr. Galapagos Tortoise is clearly a reference to the age-old fable of the tortoise and the hare.

Yet, while these characters are both fanciful and full of philosophical insight, Mr. Darwin fails in many ways to create a mature work of fiction. The use of the author’s own name for the main character shows a true lack of creativity, and creates confusion as to the fictitious nature of the work. The general lack of action is also a serious drawback, as the main character spends most of his time staring at rather ordinary plants and animals. In the end, it is clear that Mr. Darwin’s work is better suited to dim-witted, easily amused children than to connoisseurs of fine literature.

Next week: a review of the Harriet Beecher Stowe’s comedic masterpiece, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

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