Loren Eiseley (Hardcover)
Collected Essays on Evolution, Nature, and the Cosmos Vol. 1 (LOA #285): The Immense Journey, The Firmament of Time, The Unexpected Universe, uncollected prose (Library of America Loren Eiseley Edition #1)
Library of America, 9781598535068, 528pp.
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
This first volume begins with Eiseley’s debut collection, which displays his far-reaching knowledge and boundless curiosity about the mysteries of the natural world. Here are vivid accounts of prehistoric ecosystems, the origins of consciousness, the search for “living fossils” at the bottom of the sea, and the complexities of our evolutionary inheritance. Here too are literary qualities and aspirations that led many to hail Eiseley as a “modern Thoreau”: his quest for the ultimate meanings and cosmological significance of natural phenomena, along with his immense expressive gifts.
The Firmament of Time (1960), a lyrical and meditative tour de force, looks back at the many ways in which the sciences have been shaped by the changing cultures in which they developed. Examining the role of metaphor in scientific thought, anticipations of scientific discoveries in the works of poets and novelists, and the “unconscious conformity” of scientific theory to prevailing orthodoxies, Eiseley argues provocatively for the ongoing relevance to scientific progress of dreams, the imagination, and the irrational.
In his wide-ranging collection The Unexpected Universe (1969), Eiseley turns to the theme of the voyage of discovery: accounts of the mythical and historic journeys of Odysseus, Captain Cook, and Darwin frame his own more modest wanderings in the environs of Philadelphia. Sometimes he travels no farther than the local dump: and yet, like Homer’s hero or these great explorers, he continually finds a universe “not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”
As an added feature, this volume presents a selection of Eiseley’s uncollected prose, including early autobiographical sketches, vivid and haunting entries from his private notebooks, and his 1957 lecture “Neanderthal Man and the Dawn of Human Paleontology.”
A companion volume presents The Invisible Pyramid (1970), The Night Country (1971), and the essays gathered after his death in The Star Thrower (1978).
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Praise For Loren Eiseley: Collected Essays on Evolution, Nature, and the Cosmos Vol. 1 (LOA #285): The Immense Journey, The Firmament of Time, The Unexpected Universe, uncollected prose (Library of America Loren Eiseley Edition #1)…
“As captivating as today’s best-known science writers might be, no one has ever managed to make the pursuit of knowledge feel more soulful or more immediate than Loren Eiseley did in the essays and books he published in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.” —Ben Cosgrove, The Daily Beast