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Introduction & Overview of Darwin in 1881 by Gjertrud Schnackenberg

This Study Guide consists of approximately 42 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Darwin in 1881.
This section contains 288 words
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Darwin in 1881 Summary & Study Guide Description

Darwin in 1881 Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Study on Darwin in 1881 by Gjertrud Schnackenberg.


Gjertrud Schnackenberg published "Darwin in 1881" in her first collection of poems, Portraits and Elegies, in 1982. This book—sometimes referred to as a "chapbook" because of its short length—is divided into three sections, and "Darwin in 1881" makes up the entire second section. All three parts relate in one way or another to history, the first consisting of a series of elegies to her father, the third tracing the history of a Massachusetts farmhouse nearly two hundred years old, and the middle depicting the life of Charles Darwin one year before his death. This latter poem is layered with two primary allusions. A subtle reference compares Darwin's life to the poet's father's life, but the more obvious allusion is to Shakespeare's character Pros-pero from The Tempest, whom Schnackenberg also compares to Darwin.

To the poet, all three men—her father, Darwin, and Prospero—accomplished great things in their lives and had settled into times of quiet reflection before their deaths. In the poem, there is no description of the father's final days, but Schnackenberg relies heavily on an examination of Darwin's famous voyage to the Galápagos Islands, his controversial theory of evolution and natural selection, and his years, after the journey, at home in England. By blending in references to Prospero, who lives on an island for many years before returning to his native Milan, Italy, Schnackenberg presents a cohesive, poetic study, full of rich imagery, that points out the importance of history, science, and family in making sense of human life.

The characters here have all done remarkable things with their intellectual powers, and each has reached a point of saying farewell to his ambitious life in favor of a more solemn meditation on what the accomplishments have meant.

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This section contains 288 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Darwin in 1881 Study Guide
Darwin in 1881 from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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