Sunday, February 8

Introducing Mr Fabre

8th February
I have just received a scribbling award from Saucy Scarlet Blue, a lady who’s been making me laugh a lot lately - thank you Scarlet I feel very honoured and flattered. Apparently I have earned it for my quirky style, I'm supposed to pass it on but am crippled by indecision, I'm enjoying too many blogs to make a top 4 - if you're on my side bar I bestow it on you.

If you like quirky, the French entomologist JH Fabre is the man for you. Fabre’s books have been a great resource on this insect-ridden project, but the man deserves several programmes devoted to himself.

A teacher, scientist and author, Fabre was writing copiously at the end of the nineteenth century on the subject of natural history and in particular the insect world. An extraordinary character emerges through his writings. He records his experiments and observations with charm and humour; I’ve just been reading his description of a pair of dung beetles who have finally managed to roll a ball of dung into a burrow, they block the entrance to prevent interruption, and prepare to feast;

…the ball by itself fills almost the whole of the room; the rich repast rises from floor to ceiling ... here sit the banqueters, two at most ... belly to table, backs to the wall. Once the seat is chosen, no one stirs; all the vital forces are absorbed by the digestive faculties.

Fabre’s writing is florid, poetic and at times hilarious, his style was questioned by the more establishment figures of the time. Reading about Fabre I came across a quote that I had trouble understanding and asked my friend Florence for her translation of his thoughts on willfully obscure writing by academics;

Should one page bristling with barbarian and so-called scientific locutions come to my attention then I would say to myself: “take care! This author does not know exactly what he is talking about, otherwise he would have found among the vocabulary hammered out by great minds, the proper way to express clearly his thoughts"


Well quite

19 comments:

  1. I reckon he was after one of the scribbling awards...
    Sx

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  2. In my experience, academics with project grants or government funding are much like the beetles with their ball of dung.

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  3. Do you have dung beetles?

    This will inevitably lead to more questions if you answer yes.

    Oh, hello Miss Scarlet.

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  4. And hello to you to, XL.

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  5. *flings dung ball at next commenter*

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  6. Scarlet - I think he won a few

    xl - tenacious, fat, spiked-legged?

    MJ - Unfortunately I don't have any - do send some

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  7. A Frenchman who could appreciate insects and see through pretentious waffle! He deserved his country's highest honour.

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  8. There isn't much better than a funny bug scientist.

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  9. Mr Bananas - Fabre is a big hero in France and he did give our Mr Darwin a run for his money.

    Wow - I'm discovering that bug men are often very funny.

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  10. "the proper way to express clearly his thoughts"... What's wrong with "the proper way to express his thoughts clearly"? Florence is clearly French and/or a poet, and I'd like to meet her!

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  11. Now there's an idea Gadj... how to write proper poetry via google translator... I might give it a whirl.
    Hello MJ, hello Mr XL!
    Sx

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  12. It's hard not feel affection for the dung beetle. There's every likelihood their behaviour inspired Mankind to invent the wheel, and their unfaddy tastes would make them ideal dinner guests.

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  13. *. here sit the banqueters, [two at most]... belly to table, backs to the wall. Once the seat is chosen, no one stirs; all the vital forces are absorbed by the digestive faculties*

    Sounds like our local restaurant.

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  14. Gadjo - Florence is both French and a poet, we both get a kick from the way we mangle each other's language. You'd definitely like to meet her.

    Scarlet - the google translator is a a veritable poetry machine

    Brother T - Fabre goes on at length about these marvelous creatures, the length of their intestines and how they 'extract the last atom of nutrion from discrded substances'.

    But the pill bugs think they invented the wheel.

    FF - Exactly what I thought when I came across that passage.

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  15. I have lost count of the number of times JP was asked if he was a relative of the reknowned proffessor. Sadly no.

    Great post, i will be back for more.

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  16. Hello Moanie and welcome - Farbre does have some illustrious descendants, his great grandson is a successful artist, are you sure JP is not related?

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  17. Dung beetles are pretty dang fascinating. I watched a documentary about them for an entire hour and wasn't even stoned. Well, not real stoned anyway.

    Congrats on your award!

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  18. Hi Pru - not stoned eh? - try watching any insect with chemical help - hours of fun I promise.

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