Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: Or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life

By Charles Darwin | Go to book overview

THE WORK OF THE CENTURY

THE VOLUMES comprising "A Library of Universal Literature" will do for the student or the general reader precisely what their collective name implies. They will offer him in succinct and attractive form a conspectus of the highest achievements of the human intellect, as exemplified in the master works of science, of biography, of oratory and of fiction. He that shall master the contents of this treasure-house may justly feel that he has compassed the whole round of a liberal education, so far as the materials thereof have found expression in prose. It will be observed that the principle of compilation adopted in that part of the collection which is devoted to science is entirely new. Instead of confiding to a single hand the task of exhibiting in a compendious review the actual status and the prospects of the various sciences--a task to which no single hand is equal--the work of exposition in each particular field is allotted to the greatest of contemporary explorers therein, as, for instance, to Darwin in biology and to Spencer in sociology. Thus a reader is at once brought in contact with the supreme authority on a given subject, and is impelled by the powerful stimulus of well-founded admiration to a further prosecution of inquiry on his own behalf. It has been, in a word, the aim of the compilers of these volumes to send truth-seekers to the fountain-heads. The same carefully eclectic method has been followed in the other sections of the work. As examples of biography which have borne, or are certain to bear, the test of time, the reader is commended to Plutarch, to Boswell, to Carlyle and to Washington Irving. In oratory, he is invited to

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