Wanderjahre (years of wondering)

“Voyage of the Beagle can be read from several perspectives and interpreted according to taste. One very important but seldom noticed feature is its exemplification of the Wanderjahre (years of wondering) in the genesis of the scientific mind. No english term conveys the exact same meaning as the German. It refers originally to the medieval custom of sending young men to other villages or towns to learn a craft and more of the world in a different setting. History has shown that there is no more fruitful way to launch the career of a naturalist than by such an interlude, during which the adventurer travels alone, searching, freed from domestic ties, and energized by the visceral ambition of the young.”

From So Simple a Beginning: The four great books of Charles Darwin P. 18

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