In this Book

The Great Chain of Life
summary
Originally published in 1956, The Great Chain of Life brings a humanist’s keen eye and ear to one of the great questions of the ages: “What am I?” Originally a scholar of literature and theater, toward the end of his career Joseph Wood Krutch turned to the study of the natural world. Bringing his keen intellect to bear on the places around him, Krutch crafted some of the most memorable and important works of nature writing extant.

Whether anticipating the arguments of biologists who now ascribe high levels of cognition to the so-called lower animals, recognizing the importance of nature for a well-lived life, or seeing nature as an elaborately interconnected, interdependent network, Krutch’s seminal work contains lessons just as resonant today as they were when the book was first written.

Lavishly illustrated with thirteen beautiful woodcuts by Paul Landacre, an all-but-lost yet important Los Angeles artist whom Rockwell Kent called “the best American wood engraver working,” The Great Chain of Life will be cherished by new generations of readers.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Front Matter
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  1. Prologue
  2. pp. vii-xii
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. xiii-xiv
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  1. 1. Basic Forms of Life
  2. pp. 1-18
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  1. 2. Machinery for Evolution
  2. pp. 19-38
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  1. 3. The Animal's First Need
  2. pp. 39-58
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  1. 4. Parenthood
  2. pp. 59-76
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  1. 5. The Need for Continuity
  2. pp. 77-96
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  1. 6. The Barbarian Mammal
  2. pp. 97-110
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  1. 7. The Meaning of Awareness
  2. pp. 111-128
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  1. 8. Undeveloped Potentialities
  2. pp. 129-146
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  1. 9. Reverence for Life
  2. pp. 147-170
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  1. 10. Devolution
  2. pp. 171-188
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  1. 11. How Right Was Darwin?
  2. pp. 189-212
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  1. Epilogue
  2. pp. 213-227
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