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WALLACE, Alfred Russel.

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., 1869 Stock Code: 128819
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A bright, fresh copy

Second edition, first published earlier that year, of "one of the finest scientific travel books ever written" (DSB). Wallace's account of his path-breaking eight-year collecting expedition was a huge success on first publication and has drawn praise for its artistic format and literary style in addition to its scientific merits, and has been shown to have influenced novelists such as Joseph Conrad as well as the next generation of traveller-explorers.

"By the time he left the Malay archipelago, just less than eight years after his arrival in Malaya on 20 April 1854, Wallace had visited every important island in the group, many on multiple occasions. His efforts, drawing on perhaps 70 separate expeditions (requiring some 14,000 miles of island-to-island sailing in native crafts), reaped the astonishing harvest of 126,500 natural history specimens, including more than 200 new species of birds and well over 1000 new insects His book records among other exploits, his efforts to capture specimens of the bird of paradise, his pursuit of the orang-utan, his activities in New Guinea (where he was one of the first Europeans to set up a residence), his various dealings with the region's many native peoples, and numerous vignettes conveying the joys and vicissitudes of the field naturalist's work. It was during the period from 1854 to 1862 that Wallace fully came into his own as a zoogeographer. The Malay archipelago provided the ideal geographical setting for species distribution studies, not only as an end in themselves, but as evidence critical to elucidation of the evolutionary process" (ODNB).

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2 volumes, octavo. Original green pebble-grain cloth, titles and illustrations to spines gilt, orangutan vignettes to front covers, frames blocked in blind to covers, brown coated endpapers.


Frontispieces with tissue-guards, vignettes to title pages, 6 plates, 43 illustrations to the text, and 9 maps, 2 of which are in colour and folding.


Light markings to rear cover of vol. I, rear hinge of vol. I partly split, some pages unopened, vol. II p. 1 with short closed tear at head. A near-fine, bright copy.


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