Selections from Darwin’s The Origin of Species

A Science Classics Module for Humanities Studies

Edited and annotated by Nicholas Maistrellis

7" x 10", 124 pages, bibliography and index.
Publication date: March 2009.
For pricing and ordering information, see the ordering section below.

Selections from Darwin's The Origin of Species coverFrom the Editor's General Introduction:

Darwin's Origin of Species, one of the great foundational works of modern science, reorganized biology according to a revolutionary idea — that the world of living things that surrounds us, and of which we are a part, is essentially historical; that it has come into being through time, and by means of causes that act in time.

Although it is a scientific work, the Origin was not written solely for specialists. Darwin expected it to be read and understood by generally educated readers, readers like you and me. In Chapter XIV he will state that "this whole volume is one long argument." For the present edition I have chosen selections that attempt to present Darwin's principal lines of argument, while of course passing over many details. I have also provided notes and other remarks designed to help you focus on what is essential in Darwin's argument for his theory of the development of living things.


  • Green Cat Books imprint present classical readings in science in an affordable, modular format.
  • The essence of Darwin's powerful argument in a compact form.

About the Author

Nicholas Maistrellis is a faculty member at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, where he has led discussion classes on Darwin's Origin of Species for more than forty years. His background in biology and in history of science, together with his extensive teaching experience, makes him ideally suited for presenting Darwin's work to students of the humanities.

You can read a transcription of Nicholas Maistrellis's talk on Dante and Darwin given at the annual meeting of the Association of Core Texts and Courses, April 2009. In this talk Maistrellis discusses the process of making selections and determining how much, and what sort, of commentary is appropriate to aid the reader of a classic text, including his thinking in making the selections and notes in this book.

Sample pages

Below are links to PDF versions of the Table of Contents, Preface, Darwin's Introduction, and an excerpt from Chapter 1.
You may need to open these PDF documents in Adobe Reader or an equivalent program.

Ordering Information for Selections from Darwin's The Origin of Species by Nicholas Maistrellis

Sewn softcover, ISBN 978-1-888009-34-7, list price: $9.95.

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