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» » Mr. Darwin's Shooter
Mr. Darwin's Shooter e-book


Roger McDonald






Genre Fiction

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Atlantic Monthly Pr (January 1, 1999)





Mr. Darwin's Shooter e-book

by Roger McDonald

In Mr. Darwin's Shooter, Roger McDonald explores the evolution not just of flora and fauna but of friendship and belief. At 12 young Syms Covington escapes his father's slaughterhouse and England for life at sea.

In Mr. Already six feet tall and bursting with innocence, ambition, and faith, he dreams of glory.

Darwin's Shooter book. See a Problem? We’d love your help.

Now, as Darwin’s groundbreaking book is about to be published, Covington has retired to Australia in poor . Roger McDonald was born in rural New South Wales in 1941 and educated at country schools and in Sydney.

Now, as Darwin’s groundbreaking book is about to be published, Covington has retired to Australia in poor health-and in a state of moral crisis over his role in undermining the Christian faith that has supported him during his life.

Mr Darwin’s Shooter is a persuasive argument for history with a (fictional) human face. The challenge posed by Darwin’s theory of evolution to the spiritual values of his day could hardly be more tellingly evoked than it is in its impact on the far from cerebral Covington. McDonald’s nove. s a stirring reminder that the Beagle sailed on a voyage into the unknown, and that beliefs now central to the way we see the world were once almost beyond imagination.

As Covington slipped between hosts of shadows he was grabbed by strangers whose fingers traced the lumpy ridge of his nose and whose thumbs dented the dimple of his chin in wondrous regard.

As Covington slipped between hosts of shadows he was grabbed by strangers whose fingers traced the lumpy ridge of his nose and whose thumbs dented the dimple of his chin in wondrous regard y friendship would have grown from such prods. But Covington had no patience that evening. None either for the pleasures advertised dog-cheap at the door of every cunney-warren, where maids stood ‘in cuerpo’ as was said, with their gowns falling open

The arc of Mr. Darwin's Shooter paints a poignant and unforgettable picture of one man forging, then struggling to maintain, his faith in an era when it is constantly under attack - from science, from the daily brutality of life during colonial expansion, and from one's own cold, inexorable logic.

The arc of Mr. To read this book, upload an EPUB or FB2 file to Bookmate.

Darwin's Shooter captures its time with rare and dazzling skill, evoking an unforgettable-but forgotten-man at a watershed moment in history. Mr. Darwin's Shooter Evergreen book. Kullanıcılar ne diyor? - Eleştiri yazın. Kullanıcı derecelendirmeleri. 0802143563, 9780802143563.

Mr Darwin's Shooter is a 1998 novel by Roger McDonald. It describes the life of Syms Covington, manservant to Charles Darwin during Darwin's voyage aboard HMS Beagle. The book deals with three periods of Covington's life: childhood, adolescence whilst on HMS Beagle, and middle age, where Covington is struggling to deal with the conflict between his religious views and his role in the formulation of the theory of natural selection.

From one of Australia's most acclaimed authors, a dazzling and deeply imagined exploration of ambition, natural marvels, and scientific discovery, and one of history's most significant crises of faith. As a boy of thirteen, Syms Covington leaves his home in Bedford and goes to sea, passing into manhood as he sails the world, surveying Patagonia, and losing his virginity in the Pampas.

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Chronicles the life of Syms Covington--a fifteen-year-old boy who becomes Charles Darwin's shooter and collector of specimens--from his early maritime adventures with evangelical sailor John Phipps to his later years as he awaits his copy of The Origin of the Species and ponders his part in altering the way the world thinks. 40,000 first printing.
Of all the books I read on a trip to Galapagos, this was my favorite. [see list below]

Mr. Darwin’s Shooter—my favorite novel of the trip
The Evolution of Jane Catherine Schine (2011). A romance, perhaps “beach read” might be best description.
Galapagos Kurt Vonnegut—not really about Galapagos but had to mention.
The Darwin Conspiracy by John Darnton—goes between contemporary times and those of Darwin; was Darwin a fraud and murderer? [Alert: multiple books with this same title.]
The Amazing Dr. Darwin—really a young readers’ novel about Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus, but fun.

The Beak of the Finch—Pulitzer Prize winning explanation of Darwin’s discovery
Voyage of the Beagle—the original story of the Beagle’s journey that resulted in amazing scientific discoveries.
Evolution’s Captain—tells the story of why the Beagle’s captain made the unusual decision to invite Darwin along.
HMS Beagle: The Story of Darwin’s Ship
Floreana by Margret Wittmer—strange narrative of the goings on and murder surrounding ex-pats on Floreana Island.
Lonesome George: The Life and Loves of the World’s Most Famous Tortoise (natural history).
Evolution’s Workshop: God and Science on the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Affair is a documentary (2014) that focuses on the Floreana mystery.
Master and Commander includes scenes set in Galapagos. Based on the book of the same title by John Treherne.

Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith – interesting young readers’ book on their relationship
the monster
Gothic, that is, in the peculiar literary sense applied to 19th Century novels of Romantic Imagination, from Bram Stoker to the Brontes to Herman Melville. There's a lot in "Mr. Darwin's Shooter" that reminds me of Melville, beginning with the obvious fact that much of the story is set on a sailing ship bound around Cape Horn for the vast Pacific. The central character, Syms Covington, is a match for Melville's Ishmael, an outsider by virtue of his untaught intelligence and intensity, cast among the rough 'naturals' of the crew yet instinctively conscious of belonging more among the officers of the human species. Covington's ship is "The Beagle" - afloat on a sea of metaphysical storms, as isolated as Melville's Pequod - but his Ahab is the naturalist Charles Darwin. Covington was a real personage, the sailor on the Beagle who became Darwin's servant and specimen collector for seven years.

All the most flamboyant Gothic novels are about God, about the compulsion to pierce through the illusion of reality in quest of the ultimate truth. Like Ishmael in thrall to Ahab, Syms Covington is simultaneously overawed by Darwin, resentful of the gap between himself and his social and intellectual 'superior,' judgmental of and competitive with his 'master.' The language of "Mr. Darwin's Shooter" is gothically flamboyant also, as idiosyncratic and high-flown as Melville's, though author Roger McDonald had a more immediate stylistic model in the works of his fellow Australian Patrick White, another spiritual Gothic. The chapters of "Mr. Darwin's Shooter" that portray Syms Covington in his later life as a settler in the Australian outback could be merged stylistically into the pages of Patrick White's "Voss" without obvious seams. McDonald's language is eccentric - at times to the point of seeming 'overwritten.' It's intended, I think, to evoke the dialect of Covington's ilk, the dialect of rural, lower class England and the slang of sailors. But it bears no close resemblance to the actual language of the real Syms Covington's journal, or to that of Captain Maryatt or any other 1800-1860 writer I could name. It's almost chewily poetic, another 'gothic' quality, and rather surprising in a novel written in 1998.

Half concealed in the narrative turmoil of Covington's spiritual crisis -- his guilty dread that he himself has contributed to the destruction of Biblical certainty implicit in his master's theory of evolution -- is a ripe gothic romance, or rather two ripe gothic romances, Covington's wild youthful fling under the stars and bushes of the Pampas and, decades later, the match-making he attempts for his shadowy 'natural' daughter with the young Dr. MacCracken, the second focal character of the novel, to whom Covington will eventually confess his spiritual anguish. As Starbuck was to Ahab and Covington to Darwin, MacCracken becomes to Covington, both witness and judge. But if this novel has a significant flaw, it's the half-formed afterthoughtish tale of MacCracken's mating with Theodora, Covington's daughter. The real core of the novel is the parallel drama of Covington grappling with Darwin and then MacCracken grappling with Covington. Yes, dear observant reader, there is a current of homoerotic agonism in "Mr. Darwin's Shooter," another similarity it bears to "Moby Dick" or to Patrick White's "Voss."

"Mr. Darwin's Shooter" is a bold, original, ambitious novel, not an escapist diversion, a novel you'll need to think about while reading. Don't press me too hard, however, for a recommendation! I'd have to say that I admire its writing more than I like it or enjoy it. What seemed natural and proper in writers of the 19th C -- all that metaphysical fuss and romantic bustle -- seems painfully archaic in a writer of my own lifetime.
Syms Covington, the protagonist of this magnificent novel, was a real person. A seaman on board the HMS Beagle, he became the personal servant to Charles Darwin, helping him gather specimens in South America, tending him in England, and maintaining a correspondence even after his emigration to Australia. He might have remained a mere footnote to history, mentioned in Darwin's letters but not acknowledged in either THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE or THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES, had Roger McDonald not given him an intensity of life that, in this book, quite eclipses the reticent Darwin.

One thread of the novel begins with Covington as a knacker's apprentice in Bedford, England, a latter-day follower of the Christianity of John Bunyan and his PILGRIM'S PROGRESS. Meeting a charismatic sailorman-preacher, he goes with him to sea, both ending on HMS Beagle, where Covington strives to get noticed by Darwin. Through strength, skill, and sheer persistence, he eventually succeeds, and embarks on a series of adventures, both scientific and amatory. Alternating with these sections are others set thirty years later in Australia. Covington has become an eccentric half-deaf old man, his fortune made, but terrified that Darwin's conclusions in the forthcoming ORIGIN OF SPECIES will reveal him as an accomplice in disproving the scriptural foundations of the faith on which he has based his life. The unequal relationship between the old hermit and the ambitious young doctor who at first tries to patronize him has an austere fascination as the facts gradually emerge, but I cannot say that it is realized with sufficient clarity to bring Covington's spiritual crisis truly into focus. By contrast, the youthful chapters leap off the page in an incandescence of language that is at once brilliant and strange.

Darwin's vessel called in at Australia on her return voyage; his servant Syms Covington emigrated there; and now an Australian author is writing about both characters. It seems appropriate; Australia, as McDonald's Covington observes, is a country where servants soon become masters. It is also, like the hinterland of South America and the wastes of the Galapagos, a land of strange wonders where even to inhabit it is to partake in a new act of creation. And to match it, McDonald virtually creates a new language out of old ingredients: one part deliberate archaism, one part the scriptural overtones of John Bunyan, one part vernacular slang, and one part sheer invention, the whole making a brilliant verbal coinage that feels new-minted. Take this description of Covington playing his fiddle outside the cabin where the four officers are carousing:

"They saw it, the winking curves of walnut wood. And presto Covington was enjoined to render a tune, a merry jig played in the inn near the crowded kennel where Spit and Polish were fart-daniels in his Pa's litter. Pelting over the bridge Covington bowed, raising a fine dust of resin. Soon his four were fox-hunting, with all the tally-hos and tarantaras in their tiny State Room, their sweaty shirts and stitch-busting breeches jerking around in the close air, the smells of their guts thickening the tropic night. Mr Earle went leapfrogging over the back of the gent with neither room to bend nor turn, and Capt deep in his cups was obliged to render Covington invisible to his emotion."

Old beliefs and new discoveries, old language and new; McDonald juggles both brilliantly throughout. But he ends in the simplicity of reconciliation: "He saw Darwin on his knees, and there was no difference between prayer and pulling a worm from the grass. As for Mr Covington, he prayed in the old-fashioned way. It was the last of anything he knew."

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