I have just received a copy of the new Penguin Classics edition of Wallace's book The Malay Archipelago and am delighted with it. The long (53 page) introduction by Wallace scholar Andrew Berry is superb and almost worth buying the book for! Andrew has also included sections on "Further Reading" a "Chronology" of important events in Wallace's life, and a very useful "Timeline of Wallace's Travels" in the Malay Archipelago. This is how Andrew concludes his introduction:
"Writing in 1863, the year after Wallace's return from South-East Asia, T. H. Huxley - never one to be extravagant with praise - assessed Wallace and his travels:
'Once in a generation, a Wallace may be found physically, mentally, and morally qualified to wander unscathed through the tropical wilds of America and of Asia; to form magnificent collections as he wanders; and withal to think out sagaciously the conclusions suggested by his collections.'
In light of The Malay Archipelago, we might add to this judgment that it is seldom, too, that such exploratory zeal and scientific brilliance are coupled so providentially with a facility for writing lyrically and passionately yet precisely about hazardous journeys, curious geographies, spectacular species, unimagined places and extraordinary peoples."
To mark the launch of this edition I wrote a post for the Penguin Classics blog which features some of Wallace's beautiful watercolour paintings from Sarawak, amongst other things. To see it click HERE.