The Great Monkey Trial
Dust-jacket for The Great Monkey Trial
|Author||L. Sprague de Camp|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
The Great Monkey Trial is a book on the Scopes Trial by L. Sprague de Camp, first published in hardcover by Doubleday in 1968. This history of the trial was based on the archives of the A.C.L.U., assorted newspaper files, correspondence and interviews with over a dozen of those present at the trial, books and magazine articles written on trial (including the memoirs of John T. Scopes and the official record of the trial in the Rhea County Courthouse), and a couple of visits to Dayton.
De Camp breathed life into the trial transcript by adding vocal inflections, facial expressions, gestures and movement, as well as various crowd comments and reactions not found in the trial transcript. Chapter titles such as "The Challenge", "The Crusade" and "The Champion Falls" add a decidedly military flavor to the story. Literary quotations are provided at the start of each chapter, for instance, that for "Single Combat", the chapter detailing the cross-examination of William Jennings Bryan by Clarence Darrow, for which de Camp chose a quotation from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass where Alice and the Queen talk about believing impossible things. For de Camp, the trial was a battle in "a conflict between two sets of ideas"; the "theistic" and the "materialistic" or "mechanistic."
Reviewers praised de Camp's writing style while paying less attention to his arguments. Some have held that this and other "[b]ooks written specifically about the Scopes trial serve ... to reinforce the spirit of ridicule" associated with the trial. Though he avoided taking an extreme position, de Camp's subtle approach was as effective in its time and place as the barbs offered by Darrow and H. L. Mencken during the trial.
Relation to other works
- Laughlin, Charlotte; Daniel J. H. Levack (1983). De Camp: An L. Sprague de Camp Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller. p. 62.
- De Camp, L. Sprague (1968). The Great Monkey Trial. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc. pp. [ix]-x.
- Bernabo, Lawrance; Celeste Michelle Condit (1990). "Two Stories of the Scopes Trial: Legal and Journalistic Articulations of the Legitimacy of Science and Religion" in Popular Trials: Rhetoric, Mass Media, and the Law, edited by Robert Hariman. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, c1990, p. 82.
- Bernabo, Lawrance; Celeste Michelle Condit (1990). "Two Stories of the Scopes Trial: Legal and Journalistic Articulations of the Legitimacy of Science and Religion" in Popular Trials: Rhetoric, Mass Media, and the Law, edited by Robert Hariman. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 55-85, 204-18.