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The Tragic Sense of Life : Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle Over Evolutionary Thought

On his birthday, the anniversary of her death, he could never again work or even eat. More than once his thoughts turned to suicide. These emotions crystallized around a great purpose, one that would energise him for the rest of his life. For a year he worked eighteen-hour days, like a man possessed. Next Haeckel took the fight for evolution to the general public.

It was among the most widely-read popularizations of science in the nineteenth century. What was most striking — shocking even — was that Haeckel focused on the hugely controversial issue of human evolution.

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It was not until that Darwin tackled this delicate subject in The Descent of Man. An artist as well as a scientist, Haeckel was certainly innovative in his use of illustrations. No other popular science book had images that could compare in either quantity or quality.

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For a writer whose style could be prolix, his striking illustrations memorably encapsulated complex ideas. On occasion they also offered the iconoclastic Haeckel an irresistible excuse for social commentary. A comparison between a human and a dog embryo prompted this memorable attack on those aristocrats who regarded themselves as a breed apart:.

But his illustrations also landed him in hot water. It was not his science, however, but his art that let Haeckel down. Indeed they were. As one eagle-eyed reviewer noted, the same woodcut had been printed three times. The error was corrected in subsequent editions, but the charge of fraud stuck and haunted Haeckel for the rest of his life.


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This mistake unleashed a torrent of abuse directed at Haeckel, including death threats. It became so bad that he contemplated suicide in the s. In , Haeckel married Agnes Huschke, the daughter of a fellow Jena scientist. We can notify you when this item is back in stock. Home Contact us Help Free delivery worldwide. Free delivery worldwide.

The Tragic Sense of Life: Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought

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Robert J. Richards: The Tragic Sense of Life Pages 1 - 7 - Text Version | FlipHTML5

Notify me. Description Prior to World War I, more people learned of evolutionary theory from the voluminous writings of Charles Darwin's foremost champion in Germany, Ernst Haeckel , than from any other source, including the writings of Darwin himself. But, with detractors ranging from paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould to modern-day creationists and advocates of intelligent design, Haeckel is better known as a divisive figure than as a pioneering biologist. Purchase this article - DOI No access? Try this: Visit this page using campus wifi or a campus computer.

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