Hot Best Seller

The Unexpected Universe: A Library of America eBook Classic

Availability: Ready to download

At the height of a distinguished career as a paleontologist, Loren Eiseley turned from fieldwork and scientific publication to the personal essay. Here, in The Unexpected Universe, he displays his far-reaching knowledge and searching curiosity about the natural world, and the qualities that led many to hail him as a “modern Thoreau.” Fascinating accounts of the journeys of At the height of a distinguished career as a paleontologist, Loren Eiseley turned from fieldwork and scientific publication to the personal essay. Here, in The Unexpected Universe, he displays his far-reaching knowledge and searching curiosity about the natural world, and the qualities that led many to hail him as a “modern Thoreau.” Fascinating accounts of the journeys of Odysseus, Captain Cook, and Charles Darwin frame Eiseley’s more modest wanderings as a suburban naturalist, attentive to the lives of small creatures. Sometimes he travels no further than the local dump: and yet, like Homer’s hero or these great explorers, he continually finds a universe “not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”


Compare

At the height of a distinguished career as a paleontologist, Loren Eiseley turned from fieldwork and scientific publication to the personal essay. Here, in The Unexpected Universe, he displays his far-reaching knowledge and searching curiosity about the natural world, and the qualities that led many to hail him as a “modern Thoreau.” Fascinating accounts of the journeys of At the height of a distinguished career as a paleontologist, Loren Eiseley turned from fieldwork and scientific publication to the personal essay. Here, in The Unexpected Universe, he displays his far-reaching knowledge and searching curiosity about the natural world, and the qualities that led many to hail him as a “modern Thoreau.” Fascinating accounts of the journeys of Odysseus, Captain Cook, and Charles Darwin frame Eiseley’s more modest wanderings as a suburban naturalist, attentive to the lives of small creatures. Sometimes he travels no further than the local dump: and yet, like Homer’s hero or these great explorers, he continually finds a universe “not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

30 review for The Unexpected Universe: A Library of America eBook Classic

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mathieu Debic

    This collection of short essays by anthropologist Loren Eiseley often led me to set down the book and stare off into space for a long minute. His writing skirts the bleeding edges of our rational understanding of the world around us and hands the reader a comprehensive guide to an almost religious devotion to and appreciation of nature and time. No polemic, no anti- or pro- anything lays secreted away in these pages. Instead the reader will find musings and tales, some light and optimistic, some This collection of short essays by anthropologist Loren Eiseley often led me to set down the book and stare off into space for a long minute. His writing skirts the bleeding edges of our rational understanding of the world around us and hands the reader a comprehensive guide to an almost religious devotion to and appreciation of nature and time. No polemic, no anti- or pro- anything lays secreted away in these pages. Instead the reader will find musings and tales, some light and optimistic, some deeply dark and aching, of one man's experience of life. Its a beautiful read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Eiseley used to write a monthly column in a magazine called Natural History. One of the essays was about bringing home a fossil and placing it on the floor in his house. One night his dog recognized the fossil as a bone, put his foot on it and growled at his master. Eiseley says he was transported far back into the past by the experience. Reading this made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael Armstrong

    This is not a review. This is a funny, to me I guess, story about my picking this book. When I was a kid I decided to givr the hobo life a try and head out west by any conveyance I could hop, crawl or jump into. I remember falling into the company of a bunch of winos in a makeshift camp of sorts in N.M. Kind of a way station for the down and out, the few on the lam, and punks like me. I was chumming around with this old guy who looked like a vulture sizing everybody up for a meal. We were passin This is not a review. This is a funny, to me I guess, story about my picking this book. When I was a kid I decided to givr the hobo life a try and head out west by any conveyance I could hop, crawl or jump into. I remember falling into the company of a bunch of winos in a makeshift camp of sorts in N.M. Kind of a way station for the down and out, the few on the lam, and punks like me. I was chumming around with this old guy who looked like a vulture sizing everybody up for a meal. We were passing a bottle of MD 20/20 back and forth and he had his stuff in a kind of knapsack laying open next to him. I saw a book sticking out and I asked him about it. He pulled it out and held it up turning it around and staring at it like a jar of peaches you can't decide to open or not. He said this is "The Book". Then he looked at me and said what will you trade me for it? I had never thought about trading for it but since it was "The Book" I had to have it. I fumbled around and pulled out a pair of brass knuckles I had that I carried for protection and never had any intention of ever using and he said "I'll take those". He threw me the book and I tossed him my knucks and that was that. I started reading this wonderful book and lost it somewhere. I have another copy now and I'm reading it anew. I think Mr. Eiseley could have gleaned some meaning about the wino who had his book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Justin Howe

    It's impossible for me not to like a naturalist who quotes from Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Bacon, Heraclitus, Lord Dunsany, and Peter Beagle. It's impossible for me not to like a naturalist who quotes from Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Bacon, Heraclitus, Lord Dunsany, and Peter Beagle.

  5. 4 out of 5

    August

    One of the best books I randomly came across. An amazing discovery for those that don't know Loren. It's the cross section of astronomy, philosophy, anthropology, and amazing literature. One of the best books I randomly came across. An amazing discovery for those that don't know Loren. It's the cross section of astronomy, philosophy, anthropology, and amazing literature.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Murphy

    Five stars for everything Loren Eiseley has written! This book of essays is revealing and moving in so many ways....the search for God, the communion with nature and the wild, the contemplations of life The play with a fox cub, tying man to the initial bubbling of life on this mere planet....seeing oneself in the eye of an untamed creature. The Bonehunter, always searching, saw so much more than we.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Eiseley is brilliant and thoughtful. His essays are centered on nature and our physical universe and what it teaches us. The story about the spider truly enlightened me about perspective... we all have our own filter ;-)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Coppens

    This book was more like a poetic meditation on life, death, evolution, human progress (or lack there of) with a focus of the works of Thoreau and Darwin. I loved the layered literary references, including The Odyssey and The Tempest. This book is timeless.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tim Weed

    A few jarringly anachronistic notes, but these essays are full of dark, lyrical, genius. Looking forward to my next Eiseley. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Damian Platt

    I've never read anything like this before. Just extraordinary in scope and feeling. "The Star Thrower" is my favourite essay of them all. I've never read anything like this before. Just extraordinary in scope and feeling. "The Star Thrower" is my favourite essay of them all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David Haws

    This is the third Eiseley I’ve read, and it sometimes felt like he was trying to recreate the success of that first book. I would have preferred him to take his considerable talent some place new. Eiseley has a knack for looking at something from the outside, and making it about himself (“asserting the human right to define his own frontier”). On a picky note, I’m not sure how one produces “a carelessly exaggerated yawn,” and I certainly hope the young farm-girl lived her life unaware that Eisel This is the third Eiseley I’ve read, and it sometimes felt like he was trying to recreate the success of that first book. I would have preferred him to take his considerable talent some place new. Eiseley has a knack for looking at something from the outside, and making it about himself (“asserting the human right to define his own frontier”). On a picky note, I’m not sure how one produces “a carelessly exaggerated yawn,” and I certainly hope the young farm-girl lived her life unaware that Eiseley thought she looked like the last Neanderthal.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    I'd never heard of the author before and don't usually read scientific philosophy, but I found it in a secondhand bookshop for 70 cents, so thought I'd give it a try. It was a bit of a slog, to be honest. Less rigorously scientific than expected, and too philosophically woolly. Some interesting ideas buried under a pile of frustratingly vague and incoherent waffle. I'd never heard of the author before and don't usually read scientific philosophy, but I found it in a secondhand bookshop for 70 cents, so thought I'd give it a try. It was a bit of a slog, to be honest. Less rigorously scientific than expected, and too philosophically woolly. Some interesting ideas buried under a pile of frustratingly vague and incoherent waffle.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Becker

    Flipping fantastic. I am not, repeat not, a natural history fan by any stretch of the imagination, but Eiseley's prose is so wonderful it made the ride worthwhile. The occasional non-PC 60's jargon slips in a time or two, & he's very, very excited about man having been to the moon (it was the 60's, ok?), but otherwise, what a great read. Flipping fantastic. I am not, repeat not, a natural history fan by any stretch of the imagination, but Eiseley's prose is so wonderful it made the ride worthwhile. The occasional non-PC 60's jargon slips in a time or two, & he's very, very excited about man having been to the moon (it was the 60's, ok?), but otherwise, what a great read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Al

    Another gem from the brilliant Professor Eiseley. At once science, poetry, essay and story, Eiseley's work is sui genesis. Here he explores, in all its facets, mankind's place in the world. Filled with brilliant insights, lyrical prose, and fascinating experiences, The Unexpected Universe is a feast of related essays, all of which enrich one's understanding of where we are, how we got here, and where we might be heading. Timeless; don't miss it. Another gem from the brilliant Professor Eiseley. At once science, poetry, essay and story, Eiseley's work is sui genesis. Here he explores, in all its facets, mankind's place in the world. Filled with brilliant insights, lyrical prose, and fascinating experiences, The Unexpected Universe is a feast of related essays, all of which enrich one's understanding of where we are, how we got here, and where we might be heading. Timeless; don't miss it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Penny

    Studying and analyzing early man, Eiseley makes interesting assumptions. His reactions about Darwin and Thoreau are all through the book. As a believer in the Creator, I examine the ideas. I love his writing and his questioning. “We live by messages – all true scientists, all lovers of the arts … Some of the messages cannot be read, but man will always try. He hungers for messages, and when he ceases to seek and interpret them he will be no longer man.”

  16. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    An emotional drift into outer space, which coincidentally looks a lot like a plant cell. Eiseley is is unfortunately blinded by certain hang-ups typical of his time, and one can feel him almost straining against them.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mandy Franklin

    I am so affected by this book. Eiseley was an amazing writer and keen observer of the natural world. Just lovely.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    Utterly beautiful. His reflection on the uniqueness and primacy of man won me over!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Pluck

    My favorite nature writer.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Graychin

    Less scientific in its focus than The Immense Journey and more melancholy (if that’s possible) than The Night Country. The best piece in this middle-Eiseley collection is without a doubt “The Star Thrower” (which I look forward to re-reading soon) but the title essay and “The Innocent Fox” are also terrific.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bob Nichols

    Good reflections on our natural world, its evolutionary history, and a bit on our place in the universe. Loved the dedication to "Wolf who sleeps forever with an ice age bone across his heart, the last gift of one who loved him." In the book, Eiseley relates the story of Wolf stealing the bone and fiercely growling at him when Eiseley tried to get it back. The writing on Thoreau and Darwin was the best. Both were voyagers, the author writes. "One confined himself to the ever widening ripples on a Good reflections on our natural world, its evolutionary history, and a bit on our place in the universe. Loved the dedication to "Wolf who sleeps forever with an ice age bone across his heart, the last gift of one who loved him." In the book, Eiseley relates the story of Wolf stealing the bone and fiercely growling at him when Eiseley tried to get it back. The writing on Thoreau and Darwin was the best. Both were voyagers, the author writes. "One confined himself to the ever widening ripples on a pond until they embraced infinity. The other went around the world and remained for the rest of his life a meditative recluse...." One of his friends said of Thoreau, "Something peculiar here I judge." Others called him a different species. Eiseley resurrects a good Darwin quote: "'I did not formerly consider sufficiently the existence of structures, which as far as we can...judge, are neither beneficial nor injurious, and this I believe to be one of the greatest oversights as yet detected in my work. This led to my tacit assumption that every detail of structure was of some special though unrecognized service.'" Eiseley also relays that the captain of the Beagle in 1860 protested angrily that Origins violated the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. Of Eisely himself, from Wikipedia: "You," a friend told him, "are a freak, you know. A God-damned freak, and life is never going to be easy for you. You like scholarship, but the scholars, some of them, anyhow, are not going to like you because you don’t stay in the hole where God supposedly put you. You keep sticking your head out and looking around. In a university that’s inadvisable."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Octavia Cade

    Eiseley is I think my favourite science writer of all time. He gives such context to science, such human meaning, and he writes as if scientists were routinely artists as well. (If only!) He is what I aspire to be as a science writer, and I want to go shoving his books into other people's hands and say "You've got to read this!" on a frighteningly frequent basis. This book doesn't quite match up to The Immense Journey for me, but it's still got several fantastic pieces: the dog with the fossil bo Eiseley is I think my favourite science writer of all time. He gives such context to science, such human meaning, and he writes as if scientists were routinely artists as well. (If only!) He is what I aspire to be as a science writer, and I want to go shoving his books into other people's hands and say "You've got to read this!" on a frighteningly frequent basis. This book doesn't quite match up to The Immense Journey for me, but it's still got several fantastic pieces: the dog with the fossil bone, the play-fight over a bone with a fox cub, the encounter with a woman who had traces of Neanderthal in her features... This is one of those books I'll keep and read over and over again. Highly recommended.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael Norwitz

    Eiseley is a naturalist who has written many books of popular science and history. I've read and treasured others of his works, but not this one. Vaguely depressive in tone, full of anecdotes which seem to go nowhere, factually unedifying and tediously existentialist, I found it a complete chore to get through. Eiseley is a naturalist who has written many books of popular science and history. I've read and treasured others of his works, but not this one. Vaguely depressive in tone, full of anecdotes which seem to go nowhere, factually unedifying and tediously existentialist, I found it a complete chore to get through.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    I HATED, DESPISED, didn't want to look at this book when I was forced to read it in high school. I haven't looked at it since. But it was the first used book I ever bought on Amazon...and I have this feeling that I would love it if I read it now...I probably will someday... I HATED, DESPISED, didn't want to look at this book when I was forced to read it in high school. I haven't looked at it since. But it was the first used book I ever bought on Amazon...and I have this feeling that I would love it if I read it now...I probably will someday...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Ah, this book. I wanted to love it with all my heart but my goodness, the topics and the way they're explored are quite beyond my abilities to comprehend and ponder. I enjoyed it to the best of my ability but I confess that about halfway through, I just wanted it to be over. Ah, this book. I wanted to love it with all my heart but my goodness, the topics and the way they're explored are quite beyond my abilities to comprehend and ponder. I enjoyed it to the best of my ability but I confess that about halfway through, I just wanted it to be over.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    More essays by Eiseley. Good stuff. He really lets you feel the mystery and beauty of nature and natural history.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lysergius

    A wonderful look at the universe by someone who appreciates it in all its glory.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Damselindistress

    Exquisitely melancholy and thought-provoking.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pierre

    The five stars are for chapter 4 : The Star Thrower.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chris Bonds

    One of my desert island books. He wrote beautifully and poetically about the natural world.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...