Een weinig spectaculair Darwinjaar


  • Bert Theunissen



Charles Darwin, Reception history


An Unspectacular Darwin Year
The publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species did not provoke heated debate in the Netherlands. Of the few responses that did emerge, the majority were moderate in tone. It was only in 1868, when the German materialist Carl Vogt gave a series of lectures in Rotterdam, that the issue of human evolution in relation to Christian belief gave rise to a short outburst of polemics. And the Dutch situation has not changed since then: the theory of evolution is hardly ever discussed publicly, unless religious issues are at stake. The year 2009 is no exception: the works published on the occasion of the Darwin commemorations sparked no polemics. A number of these works are reviewed here. Two historical PhD theses, by Janneke van der Heide and Bart Leeuwenburgh, add valuable detail to our picture of the Dutch reception of Darwin’s works and confirm that, by and large, quiet appropriation was the customary response. Dirk Van Hulle’s book, based on textual analysis of Darwin’s manuscripts and books, provides an original insight into Darwin’s romantic inspiration. Several popular works, by Chris Buskes et al., Marc van Roosmalen and Job Slok, aim to explain Darwin’s career and ideas to a wider audience; Buskes et al. do the best job.


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How to Cite

Theunissen, B. (2010). Een weinig spectaculair Darwinjaar. BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 125(4), 48–58.



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