London: John Van Voorst, 1857. First edition. Hardcover. 7 3/4 by 5 inches; 196 by 127 mm. xiii, , 276 pages. First edition, first issue. Hardcover, in very good condition, bound long ago (or quite recently but made to look aged? A biblographical knot) in three-quarter brown leather and reddish marbled boards, with five raised bands and title, author and rules in gilt on the spine. Some rubbing to joints and board edges; foxing to endpapers and preliminary pages, but contents quite clean. Lacking the six pages of publisher's advertisements typically in the rear of the cloth trade binding. 56 illustrations on wood. First issue, without the word Creation in the title. Item #899
In the nineteenth century a growing body of knowledge about geology and fossils put scientists and religious leaders in conflict over the age of the earth. In 1857, two years before the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, Gosse, a successful naturalist and science writer but also a Christian fundamentalist, wrote Omphalos as an attempt to reconcile the differences. His theory of "prochronism" (that, at the time the earth was created, all evidence of an earlier history was also created), received harsh criticism from both sides, but since then its resistance to being proven true or false has intrigued historians, philosophers and cultural theorists and inspired further ideas and debate, including Jorge Luis Borges's 1941 essay "The Creation and P. H. Gosse" and Stephen Jay Gould's 1984 essay "Adam's Navel." More recently, Omphalos was reprinted by scholarly publishers Ox Bow Press in 1998 and Routledge in 2003.