Fate remains the enigma. Some chance event at the beginning of our lives keys in its plot. That this is so is the understanding of both folklore and the highest fiction. Dick Whittington’s cat, the stone embedded in a snowball and thrown in random mischief, the kite that caught on fire. There is a scene in Charles Darwin, John Bowlby’s abundantly detailed biography, in which we see Darwin relaxing on a sofa at Down House. He is reading George Eliot. Around him are his meticulously catalogued library, his notebooks, microscope, stacks of scientific journals. He is the preeminent scientist of his century and of ours. The great theory which he began to suspect as a young naturalist on the long voyage of The Beagle (1832-1836) was one in which chance opened possibility after possibility over millions of years, so that the offspring of creatures now known only by fossils worked out a genetic fate. The bear, the wolf, and the...

 
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