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

by James A. Secord

  • ISBN: 9780226744100
  • ISBN10: 0226744108

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

by James A. Secord

  • List Price: $38.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 12/01/2000
  • ISBN: 9780226744100
  • ISBN10: 0226744108
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Description: Fiction or philosophy, profound knowledge or shocking heresy? When Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation was published anonymously in 1844, it sparked one of the greatest sensations of the Victorian era. Thousands of 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. Vestiges was banned, it was damned, it was hailed as the gospel for a new age.

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we watch as Charles Darwin turns its pages in the flea-ridden British Museum library, fearful for the fate of his own unpublished theory of evolution.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 hustling 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.

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