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664   George Orwell  $500 $888 $977 7 You must login to place a bid.

#664 - George Orwell

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"Darwin saying 'So much the worse for the Scriptures' was my invention, but I should think he might have said it"—Orwell's imagined argument on slavery.
Description  

TLS signed “Geo. Orwell,” one page, 8 x 10, April 27, 1946. Letter to Mr. Mackerness. In part: “I have never read Darwin's Autobiography. The broadcast you listened to was based on 'The Voyage of a Naturalist' and on the recent book 'Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle' which was edited by Lady Barlow (Darwin's grand-daughter, I think), and which supplemented Darwin's own book by quoting his letters, diaries etc., and gave a good deal of information about Captain Fitzroy. I am afraid I have never read Fitzroy's narrative of the voyage either.

The argument between Darwin and Fitzroy on slavery was based pretty closely on the two books. In his own narrative Darwin expresses a number of times his horror of slavery and recounts various illustrative incidents, eg. that of the Negro who expected Darwin to strike him. Darwin does not mention that he quarrelled with Fitzroy about this, but it comes out in Lady Barlow's book. Darwin saying 'So much the worse for the Scriptures' was my invention, but I should think he might have said it, and Fitzroy would have been pretty sure to bring forward the Scriptural argument. All the bits of dialogue in the broadcast were based on some or other passage in these two books. The bit where Darwin almost formulates the theory of natural selection was based on Chapter VIII of the 'Voyage.' Unfortunately they cut my script down a bit (this always happens to allow for the insertion of music) and left out a passage in which I related the growth of his opinions to the happenings on the voyage.

I do not know why I have never read Darwin's Autobiography. I have read most of his published work including his book on earthworms which fascinated me years ago. He seems to me a very sincere and lovable person.” Intersecting folds (one vertical fold passing through a single letter of the signature) and a repaired tear to the left edge (affecting one letter of the text), otherwise fine condition.

During the 1940s and 1950s the BBC produced a series known as 'Imaginary Conversations,' which were radio broadcasts of scripted dramatized discussions between historical figures on opposite sides of well-known disagreements. Orwell wrote the script for one of these, which focused on Darwin's thoughts versus those of the captain of the HMS Beagle, Robert FitzRoy. Shortly after Darwin published On the Origin of Species came the now-famous '1860 Oxford Evolution Debate,' which pitted prominent British scientists and religious figures against each other in heated debate over the idea of evolution. FitzRoy was a participant in the discussion on the anti-evolutionist side, and is remembered for denouncing Darwin's book while lifting an immense Bible over his head, solemnly imploring the audience to believe God rather than man—likely the inspiration for Orwell's invented dialogue regarding the Scriptures. An extremely rare letter by the important English writer whose fiction generally served as a proxy for political debate—he had just published the allegorical Animal Farm in 1945—and the script discussed here was no exception. A truly extraordinary piece. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.

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