Monday, February 28, 2011

Charles Darwin

I am making my way through the second edition of Charles Darwin’s “The Descent of Man”. A quick search of descriptions in online book stores leads me to believe that mine is an 1874 printing. The book is about 127 years old.

I am also engaged in a spirited discussion of postal mail vs. email in marketing campaigns (Given the nature of my market and business I employ postal, email, phone and face-to-face).

I am struck by the number of personal and technical references given by Darwin, especially the personal references.

Visit for this image! Darwin_Scan10006 (Copy).JPG

In the image above I have circled in red Darwin’s references to humans or human works; 8 references on two pages of about 700 pages in this copy.

Two of the eight references are to books, so imagine Darwin, in his study, flipping through various books from his library to obtain the title, edition, page number and quotation.

Six of the eight references are to his correspondents, and Darwin had many correspondents.

Charles Darwin was a notorious letter-writer and receiver.

6 quotes in 2 pages out of 700 yields as a first approximation 2,100 personal quotations.

Let’s assume that he quotes each correspondent 10 times in this work, that leaves us with 210 people with whom he corresponded, and assume that on average 3 letters passed each way between them, that means that Charles Darwin read 630 letters and wrote 630 letters.

Of course, some of the correspondence contained matters that were used in other books, but none the less, consider this:

Darwin was an experimenter. He spent time outside with a notebook and pencil, a lamp at night time, in his fields, observing, measuring. He spent time deep in thought, we can be sure. He spent time drafting and revising his works. He had a family and a life.

And he wrote, by hand (no typewriters, no email) a staggering number of letters to correspondents around the world.

In a variety of languages.

In his Copious Free Time he read books.

Charles Darwin belongs to a lost age, but consider his impact on our world, and stand in awe of what he achieved by reading, and writing by hand.

Talk to Me !

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