Saturday, 5 January 2013

Le Tour du Monde: Articles by Alfred Russel Wallace

Le Tour du Monde (lTdM) is kind of like the National Geographic journal of the 19th century. It ran from 1860 till almost the Great War (WWI), and has amongst its contributors eminent explorers like Livingstone, Garnier, Stanley, Amundsen...etc... One of the these is Alfred Russel Wallace. As an original scientist, Wallace should be way up there in the scientific Patheon. He is credited as the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin.  He does have quite a bit of connection to the Southeast Asia region where he spent some years and it is here that he formulated his evolution theory. It was from the Spice islands in 1858, that he sent his famous letter to Darwin outlining his thoughts, which finally prompted Darwin to publish his evolution theory. Without doubt, Darwin came up with Evolution theory first, but Wallace's own idea of evolution is definitely independent. As a traveler, his many trips in the Malay Archipelago are also legendary.
I first came to know about Wallace's articles in lTdM when I chanced upon the two copies of Le Tour du Monde pictured above from a shop in Saint-Germain-des-PrĂ©s, Paris during a work trip to France in May 2012.  Later on, from a website dedicated to Le Tour du Monde, I learnt that Wallace contributed a couple more articles. All three sets of articles are entitled:

L'archipel Malaisien, patrie de l'orang-outan et de l'oiseau de paradis. Recits de voyage et etude de l'homme et de la nature
(The MAlay archipelago, land of the orang utan and birds of paradise. Account of the journey and the study of the people and of nature)

and they appeared in lTdM in

1870. Vol. XXII, liv. 557 & 558, pg. 145-176
1872. Vol. XXIV, liv. 614 & 615, pg. 225-256
1873. Vol. XXVI, liv. 663 & 664, pg. 177-208

The 1870 article covers Singapore, Malacca, and Borneo. It is essentially the translated version of Chap. 1 to 4 of Wallace's book 'The Malay Archipelago' (tMA). There are however, many more pictures included in the articles, that are not present in tMA, including several beautiful ones of Singapore, engraved by a French engraver, based on pictures that appeared in a Atlas pittoresque published by Dumont d'Urville in the 1840s.
Picture from the 1870 issue
The 1872 article writes about Sumatra, Timor island, Makassar (Sulawesi), and Ambon, as covered in Chap. 8, 13, 15, 16 and 20 of tMA. Again, there are several more images not present in the book, including lovely pictures of the volcano on Banda, and a mosque on Ambon island.

The 1873 article talks about Seram, the Aru islands and some other Papuan islands.