Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis

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9780156032995: Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis

Before Darwin, before Audubon, before Gilbert White, there was Merian. An artist turned naturalist, known for her botanical illustrations, Maria Sybilla Merian was born in Germany just sixteen years after Galileo proclaimed that the earth orbited the sun. But at the age of fifty she sailed from Europe to the New World on a solo scientific expedition to study insect metamorphosis - an unheard-of journey for any naturalist at that time, much less an unaccompanied woman. When she returned she produced a book that secured her reputation, only to have it savaged in the nineteenth century by scientists who disdained the work of 'amateurs'. Exquisitely written and illustrated, "Chrysalis" takes us from golden-age Amsterdam to the Surinam tropics to modern laboratories where Merian's insights fuel a new branch of biology. Kim Todd brilliantly brings to life a seventeenth-century woman whose boldness and vision would still be exceptional today and restores her to her rightful position amongst those scientists who have changed the way we view the world.

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Review:

Redeeming the reputation of yet another underrated European woman, Kim Todd
writes lucidly, and with historic and scientific accuracy, about the life
of Maria Merian who, as an explorer and natural scientist, preceded Darwin,
Humboldt and Audubon.
-Iain Finlayson

-- The Times

'An extraordinary portrait...A breathtaking example of scholarship
and storytelling.' Kirkus -- Kirkus

'In this revolutionary biography of Maria Merian, Kim Todd has
rewritten history to include this woman of courage, dedication and genius,
and in doing so has turned an old notion or two on its head. This is an
earth-shaking book.' -- Janisse Ray

'In this spellbinding biography, Todd interweaves the life of
Maria Sibylla Merian...with the intellectual and scientific history of
metamorphosis.' -- New Yorker New Yorker New Yorker

'Kim Todd gives wings to the life of the artist/naturalist Maria
Merian. A lovely and exhilarating book.' -- Deirdre McNamer

'This lovely and thoughtful book sets Maria Merian's work in its
natural context, restoring its true meaning and the reputation she
deserves.' -- Andrea Barrett

About the Author:

Kim Todd's previous book, Tinkering with Eden, received the PEN/Jerard Fund Award and the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award, among others. She lives in Montana.

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Book Description HARVEST BOOKS, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 201 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Today, an entomologist in a laboratory can gaze at a butterfly pupa with a microscope so powerful that the swirling cells on the pupa s skin look like a galaxy. She can activate a single gene or knock it out. What she can t do is discover how the insect behaves in its natural habitat--which means she doesn t know what steps to take to preserve it from extinction, nor how any particular gene may interact with the environment. Four hundred years ago, a fifty-year-old Dutch woman set sail on a solo scientific expedition to study insect metamorphosis. She could not have imagined the routine magic that scientists perform today--but her absolute insistence on studying insects in their natural habitats was so far ahead of its time that it is only now coming back into favor. Chrysalis restores Maria Sibylla Merian to her rightful place in the history of science, taking us from golden-age Amsterdam to the Surinam tropics to modern laboratories where Merian s insights fuel new approaches to both ecology and genetics. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780156032995

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