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Mr. Darwin's Shooter

McDonald, Roger

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ISBN 10: 087113733X / ISBN 13: 9780871137333
Verlag: Atlantic Monthly Pr, New York, New York, U.S.A., 1999
Gebraucht Zustand: Fine Hardcover
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087113733X Fine Quality, Value, Experience. Media Shipped in New Boxes. Buchnummer des Verkäufers LD41

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Bibliografische Details

Titel: Mr. Darwin's Shooter

Verlag: Atlantic Monthly Pr, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Erscheinungsdatum: 1999

Einband: Hardcover


Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Fine

Auflage: First Edition.

Über diesen Titel


As a boy, Syms Covington was watched over by the beckoning image of Christian, John Bunyan's pilgrim, in the stained-glass window of his Bedford chapel - and at thirteen he left home and went to sea with the evangelical sailor John Phipps. Aboard the HMS Beagle, he entered Darwin's service, an energetic and precocious fifteen-year-old. In the course of their voyages together over the next seven years, he shot and collected hundreds of specimens for his "gent, " specimens that became fundamental to the formulation of Darwin's theory of evolution. Now a crusty, near-deaf man of middle age, Covington has settled in Australia and is awaiting the arrival of the first copy of The Origin of Species. Beset by guilt over participating in a work that will shake the human worldview to its foundations, he nonetheless wonders what part of himself might be reflected in Darwin's oeuvre. Mr. Darwins' Shooter captures its time with rare skill, evoking an unforgettable - but forgotten - man at a watershed moment in history.


In Mr. Darwin's Shooter, Roger McDonald explores the evolution not just of flora and fauna but of friendship and belief. At 12 young Syms Covington escapes his father's slaughterhouse and England for life at sea. Already six feet tall and bursting with innocence, ambition, and faith, he dreams of glory. But three years later, in 1831, Covington is still only an odd-job boy and ship's fiddler on a barque named after a "beagle-hound." This boat, though, will prove his career salvation, for its cosseted passenger is Charles Darwin. The young naturalist soon marks the sailor out as an adequate aide, a "willing accomplice" to what the grown Covington will later consider "a great murder." By murder he means less the massive plundering of birds and beasts ("stopping the hearts of small life") than the undermining of Biblical truth. If species do in fact evolve, Covington wonders, what proof can there be of God's handiwork?

Syms Covington really was Darwin's shooter from 1832 to 1839, and even after he emigrated to Australia, the men continued their tense relationship--until, that is, a copy of The Origin of Species arrived. Though the boy was never the naturalist's "beau ideal" of a collector, still, Roger McDonald writes,

It was a marriage of convenience they had, and Darwin was like the fiancée who gives her consent to the match for reasons of suitability but through lack of love rues the intimacy--yet all the time lauding the practicality.
If this talented author occasionally lays on the archaisms too heavily, in Mr. Darwin's Shooter he has nonetheless fashioned a sensuous, provocative adventure. --Molly Winterbotham

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