The Life of the Fly; With Which Are Interspersed Some Chapters of Autobiography

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Author: Jean Henri Fabre

Translator’s Note

The present volume contains all the essays on flies, or Diptera, from the Souvenirs entomologiques, to which I have added, in order to make the dimensions uniform with those of the other volumes of the series, the purely autobiographical essays comprised in the Souvenirs. These essays, though they have no bearing upon the life of the fly, are among the most interesting that Henri Fabre has written and will, I am persuaded, make a special appeal to the reader. The chapter entitled The Caddis Worm has been included as following directly upon The Pond.

Since publishing The Life of the Spider, I was much struck by a passage in Dr. Chalmers Mitchell’s stimulating work, The Childhood of Animals, in which the secretary of the Zoological Society of London says: ’I have attempted to avoid the use of terms familiar only to students of zoology and to refrain from anatomical detail, but at the same time to refrain from the irritating habit assuming that my readers have no knowledge, no dictionaries and no other books.’

I began to wonder whether I had gone too far in simplifying the terminology of the Fabre essays and in appending explanatory footnotes to the inevitable number of outlandish names of insects. But my doubts vanished when I thought upon Fabre’s own words in the first chapter of this book: ’If I write for men of learning, for philosophers...I write above all things for the young. I want to make them love the natural story which you make them hate; and that is why, while keeping strictly to the domain of truth, I avoid your scientific prose, which too often, alas, seems borrowed from some Iroquois idiom!’

And I can but apologize if I have been too lavish with my notes to this chapter in particular, which introduces to us, as in a sort of litany, a multitude of the insects studied by the author. For the rest, I have continued my system of references to the earlier Fabre books, whether translated by myself or others. Of the following essays, The Harmas has appeared, under another title, in The Daily Mail; The Pond, Industrial Chemistry and the two Chapters on the bluebottle in The English Review; and The Harmas, The Pond and Industrial Chemistry in the New York Bookman. The others are new to England and America, unless any of them should be issued in newspapers or magazines between this date and the publication of the book.

I wish once more to thank Miss Frances Rodwell for her assistance in the details of my work and in the verification of the many references; and my thanks are also due to Mr. Edward Cahen, who has been good enough to revise the two chemistry chapters for me, and to Mr. W. S. Graff Baker, who has performed the same kindly task towards the two chapters entitled Mathematical Memories. — Alexander Teixeira de Mattos. Chelsea, 8 July, 1913.

[Recorder’s Note: Most Translator’s Footnotes have been omitted from this text, but some of his references to localities and insect names are included in brackets. I apologize to English readers for changes to American spelling.]

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Chicago: Jean Henri Fabre, "Translator’s Note," The Life of the Fly; With Which Are Interspersed Some Chapters of Autobiography, ed. Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925 and Seward, A. C. (Albert Charles), 1863-1941 and trans. Teixeira De Mattos, Alexander, 1865-1921 in The Life of the Fly; With Which Are Interspersed Some Chapters of Autobiography Original Sources, accessed June 19, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=6FR44JQTVZP2S8U.

MLA: Fabre, Jean Henri. "Translator’s Note." The Life of the Fly; With Which Are Interspersed Some Chapters of Autobiography, edited by Darwin, Francis, Sir, 1848-1925 and Seward, A. C. (Albert Charles), 1863-1941, and translated by Teixeira De Mattos, Alexander, 1865-1921, in The Life of the Fly; With Which Are Interspersed Some Chapters of Autobiography, Original Sources. 19 Jun. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=6FR44JQTVZP2S8U.

Harvard: Fabre, JH, 'Translator’s Note' in The Life of the Fly; With Which Are Interspersed Some Chapters of Autobiography, ed. and trans. . cited in , The Life of the Fly; With Which Are Interspersed Some Chapters of Autobiography. Original Sources, retrieved 19 June 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=6FR44JQTVZP2S8U.