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Survival of the Fittest

DARWIN, CHARLES. The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication

London: John Murray, 1868

Two volumes. Original green cloth. Light wear. A near fine set.

FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, one of 1500 copies. “The two issues have considerable textual differences” (Freeman).

“Survival of the fittest” appears here for the first time in any of Darwin’s works. Darwin planned to prepare a massive work fleshing out the theories outlined in On the Origin of Species. The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication, the only section of this ‘big book” to have been published, “corresponds to the first two intended chapters” (Freeman).

This work “contained his hypothesis of pangenesis, by means of which Darwin tried to frame an explanation of hereditary resemblance, inheritance of acquired characteristics, atavism, and regeneration. It was a brave attempt to account for a number of phenomena which were beyond the bounds of scientific knowledge in his day, such as fertilization by the union of sperm and egg, the mechanism of chromosomal inheritance, and the development of the embryo by successive cell division” (DSB).