Hard Cover. London: John Murray, 1871. First Edition. Very Good.
Two volumes. First edition, fourth printing (eighth thousand), printed December 1871 (same year as the first printing), 16 page catalogue at rear of volume II dated September 1871 . Original publisher's green cloth, spines lettered in gilt. Some moderate wear and rubbing to the extremities, hinges cracked and holding, former owner bookplates to front pastedowns, else very good. 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.