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Victorian Sensation : The Extraordinary Publication, Reception and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation - James A. Secord

Victorian Sensation

The Extraordinary Publication, Reception and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation

Paperback Published: 1st October 2001
ISBN: 9780226744117
Number Of Pages: 624

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Fiction or philosophy, profound knowledge or shocking heresy? When V"estiges of the Natural History of Creation" was published anonymously in 1844, it sparked one of the greatest sensations of the Victorian era. More than a hundred thousand readers were spellbound by its startling vision--an account of the world that extended from the formation of the solar system to the spiritual destiny of humanity. As gripping as a popular novel, "Vestiges" combined all the current scientific theories in fields ranging from astronomy and geology to psychology and economics. The book was banned, it was damned, it was hailed as the gospel for a new age. This is where our own public controversies about evolution began.
In a pioneering cultural history, James A. Secord uses the story of "Vestiges" to create a panoramic portrait of life in the early industrial era from the perspective of its readers. We join apprentices in a factory town as they debate the consequences of an evolutionary ancestry. We listen as Prince Albert reads aloud to Queen Victoria from a book that preachers denounced as blasphemy vomited from the mouth of Satan. And we watch as Charles Darwin turns its pages in the flea-ridden British Museum library, fearful for the fate of his own unpublished theory of evolution. Using secret letters, Secord reveals how "Vestiges" was written and how the anonymity of its author was maintained for forty years. He also takes us behind the scenes to a bustling world of publishers, printers, and booksellers to show how the furor over the book reflected the emerging industrial economy of print.
Beautifully written and based on painstaking research, "Victorian Sensation" offers a new approach to literary history, the history of reading, and the history of science. Profusely illustrated and full of fascinating stories, it is the most comprehensive account of the making and reception of a book (other than the Bible) ever attempted.
Winner of the 2002 Pfizer Award from the History of Science Society

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
List of Abbreviationsp. xix
Prologue: Devils or Angelsp. 1
Romances of Creation
A Great Sensationp. 9
Steam Readingp. 41
Evolution for the Peoplep. 77
Marketing Speculationp. 111
Geographies of Reading
Conversations on Creationp. 155
Science in the Cityp. 191
Church in Dangerp. 222
The Holy Warp. 261
Spiritual Journeys
Sinners and Saintsp. 299
Self-Developmentp. 336
Anonymityp. 364
Futures of Science
The Paradoxes of Gentilityp. 403
Grub Street Sciencep. 437
Mammon and the New Reformationp. 471
Epilogue: Lifting the Veilp. 515
Referencesp. 533
Creditsp. 583
Indexp. 585
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780226744117
ISBN-10: 0226744116
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 624
Published: 1st October 2001
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.7 x 13.6  x 3.18
Weight (kg): 0.87

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