Discovering Jean-Henri Fabre

I was giving my friend a tour of the St Mike’s library and we were perusing the shelves. Of course, we happen across the entomology section, lined with books on bugs, bees, ants, and the like. It was there, that I discovered this gem:


The Life of the Scorpion, written by JH FAbre, 1923. Jean-Henri Fabre was a French scientist, best known for his studies in entomology. Born to a poor family, Fabre received almost no formal scientific training and was largely an autodidact (self-taught). He experimented, taught and wrote volumes of books on insects during the late 1800s to early 1900s. Many agree that he played an monumental role in popularizing the study of insects and some also consider him the father of modern entomology. Much of this popularity can be attributed to his unique writing style. He tells the stories of the insects he meets in a biographical form, writing in first person, almost like a diary.

As I scan the first couple pages of The Life of the Scorpion, it indeed reads simple and fascinating, like a good story book. To start, Fabre shares with us his first scorpion encounter, when he isout searching for centipedes for his thesis, he comes across a scorpion under a rock and is perplexed by such a formidable creature, it’s stinger gleaming up at him. He leaves the scorpion and returns home with his centipedes:

“Science! The witch! I used to come home with joy in my heart: I had found some Centipedes. What more was needed to complete my ingenuous happiness? I carried off the Scolopendrae (centipedes) and left the Scorpions behind, not without a secret feeling that a day would come when I should have to concern myself with them.”

Oh yeah, this is going to be good. Stay tuned for more excerpts, the Science Witch has put a spell on me.




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