WALLACE, Alfred Russell (1823-1913)
The Malay Archipelago : the land of the Orang-Utan, and the Bird of Paradise. A narrative of travel with studies of man and nature.
London : Macmillan and Co., 1874. Fifth edition. Octavo, gilt-decorated green cloth (lightly stained and edges rubbed, corners bumped), pp. xvi, 653, blank, (2 – catalogue); engraved plates and folding maps, text vignettes; occasional light foxing; a very good copy.
One of the great travel narratives of the nineteenth century, covering present day Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and New Guinea. First published in 1869, Wallace’s Malay Archipelago is both a significant narrative of travel in Southeast Asia and an important work in the history of the theory of evolution.
In 1854 Wallace sailed for the Malay regions after a previous expedition had taken him to the Amazon. Wallace travelled in search of exotic species and to study indigenous peoples. His journey would last eight years. During 1858, he formulated his own biological theory of natural selection, and wrote a highly significant paper on the subject which he sent to Charles Darwin. The two scientists’ theories on natural selection were developed in tandem, with Darwin incorporating a number of Wallace’s ideas into his own theory.