Buffon by Jacques Roger
A Life in Natural History (Cornell History of Science)

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The appearance in English of this magisterial biography is a major publishing event. Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon (1707-1788), was perhaps the most important of Charles Darwin's predecessors, Director of the Royal Botanical Garden, and certainly the premier French scientist of the Enlightenment. Buffon conducted a broad range of experiments, from the burning effects of the sun's rays, to the tensile strength of timber. His studies of plant life led to his creation of a renowned nursery, his zoological interests to his development of an aviary and menagerie. His massive, thirty-six-volume System of Nature was the most widely collected work of the Enlightenment, reaching more readers than even the classics of Voltaire and Rousseau. After Buffon's death, however, his importance as a scientist was denigrated, and little information about him has been available in English. This biography, the life work of Jacques Roger, finally gives Buffon his due. Roger transforms Buffon's image from that of a somewhat incoherent courtly naturalist into that of a major philosophical and scientific thinker. Using Buffon's enormous literary production as the major source of insight into his and his age's beliefs about the natural world, the book is both a biography and an analytical discussion of Buffon's science.Wonderful illustrations of assorted animals, taken from early editions of Buffon's Natural History, make this intellectual extravaganza a visual delight as well.

About Jacques Roger

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Published June 27, 1997 by Cornell University Press. 512 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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(Buffon never put this weapon to use, but his method of constructing concave mirrors is still used today.) But too much of Roger's text is given over to discussing the minutiae of Buffon's arguments with other scientists (in which Buffon was often wrong) and not enough to analyzing the significan...

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Publishers Weekly

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Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788), was the most important naturalist of 18th-century Europe.

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London Review of Books

Linnaeus’s ambitions later expanded to encompass both plants and animals – by convention, modern zoological nomenclature begins with the names given in the tenth edition of Systema Naturae (1758).

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