A big family

By Santiago Ginnobili, Guido Ferro


Ileana Lotersztain


About the book:

In exquisite prose, an epistemologist tells us about Darwin’s courage and how he has helped us understand who we are and where we come from, how he showed us that the world is far more complex, beautiful, and interesting than what was previously thought. He also shows us how his ideas encourage us to think in more daring and original ways. Furthermore, Ferro’s precious and precise illustrations make it a marvelous book. A Big Family is not just another book on Darwin. It does not deal with his biography or his theory, but it highlights the value of the curious and irreverent attitude of Darwinism, which is so inherent in science and so much needed in our time. Rights have been sold for its translation into Italian and Portuguese (for Portugal).


I am going to tell you a story. But not just any story. I will tell you the most marvelous story. The one about life. Yours, mine, ours. I can see that you are curious. I can see it in your eyes. Curious people ask themselves a lot of questions and many times the answers they find in books, the ones they are given at school, or by their family are not enough. So, they are always looking for better and new answers. At times, curious people ask questions that have never been asked before. Questions for which answers are nowhere to be found. So, you have to look for them. You have to work hard to find them, you have to travel, observe, collect, taste, touch, dig or climb. Do you have any animals at home? How many claws do they have in their paws? Do you have the same number of fingers and toes? Why do you have 5 fingers in each hand? Could you have 8? It would be great to play the piano! Why don’t we have tentacles like an octopus? Why can’t we fly or breathe under the water? Why are we the way we are? I will answer several of these questions. I’m not sure if mine are the ultimate answers, but they are the ones we have so far. The most beautiful and interesting answers.

A long time ago there was a boy whose eyes looked like yours. His name was Charles, Charles Darwin. Nothing was more appealing for him than animals and plants; he spent all day observing whatever was alive around him. And like you, he was always asking questions. He grew up and studied, he learned and met curious people like him, from whom he heard wonderful stories that helped him think better. But it was never enough for him. So, what did he do? He traveled, observed, collected, tasted, touched, dug, and climbed. He climbed aboard a ship and traveled around the world. He spent several years on that ship, feeling seasick, cruising dangerous seas, on dangerous territories. Years later, when he was the father of many sons and daughters, he continued reflecting on that journey, making experiments and observations, now in his comfortable and beautiful house. Pleasant things happened to him, and unpleasant ones as well. Just as pleasant and unpleasant things happen to you, to everyone. But he never stopped researching, asking, and wondering. And he always did it with courage. He came up with strikingly new answers that helped us better understand who we are and where we come from. And he showed us that the world was far more complex, beautiful, and interesting than previously thought.


Translated by Julia Benseñor / Edited by Cecilia Della Croce.