Hard Cover. London: John Murray, 1885. First Edition. Near Fine.
Second edition (nineteenth thousand), revised and augmented. Publisher's green cloth, ruled in blind to boards and stamped in gilt to spine, dark brown coated endpapers. A near fine copy with just a touch of rubbing and slight wear to the extremities, front hinge cracked and secure, former owner signature to first blank. Overall, an exceptionally bright copy. Freeman 959. First published in 1871, The Descent of Man expands upon the theories of selection and evolution proposed in Darwin's earlier work, On the Origin of Species (1859). In Descent, Darwin puts forth a new theory of sexual selection, explaining how it differs from and works alongside natural selection. Notably, the first edition of Descent marks the first appearance of the word "evolution" in Darwin's writing. This volume discusses how evolutionary processes apply to humankind, drawing in concepts from evolutionary psychology and ideas of differing characteristics of anthropologically defined races of people. This work had huge implications for the history of humankind and was met with mixed responses from a society in which conservative religious beliefs could be at odds with scientific advancement. Indeed, in this second edition, Darwin mentions in his preface that there is a "fiery ordeal through which this book has passed," in which he refers to his critics, both scientific and non-scientific, who discounted his ideas.