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The Life of the Spider

Jean-Henri Fabre

Book Overview: 

Jean-Henri Casimir Fabre was a French entomologist and author. He was born in St. Léons in Aveyron, France. Fabre was largely an autodidact, owing to the poverty of his family. Nevertheless, he acquired a primary teaching certificate at the young age of 19 and began teaching at the college of Ajaccio, Corsica, called Carpentras.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .By means of this alternate motion, interspersed with numerous contacts, a segment of the sheet is obtained, of a very accurate texture.  When this is done, the Spider moves a little along a circular line and the loom works in the same manner on another segment.

The silk disk, a sort of hardly concave paten, now no longer receives aught from the spinnerets in its centre; the marginal belt alone increases in thickness.  The piece thus becomes a bowl-shaped porringer, surrounded by a wide, flat edge.

The time for the laying has come.  With one quick emission, the viscous, pale-yellow eggs are laid in the basin, where they heap together in the shape of a globe which projects largely outside the cavity.  The spinnerets are once more set going.  With short movements, as the tip of the abdomen rises and falls to weave the round mat, they cover up the exposed hemisphere.  The result is a pill set in the middle of a circular carpet.

The legs, h. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Fabre was France's preeminent 19th century naturalist, and this compendium of his writings on spiders is unsurpassed. His description of the solar-powered flights of fledgling spiderlets is some of the most fantastic nature writing on earth.

Fabre is a fascinating man, and he writes in a beautiful way about the spiders he's observed. My daughter and I were amazed at the things he came up with to try regarding the spiders and their lifestyles: changing their webs, switching egg sacs, etc. It seemed rather cruel in the name of 'science'!

Another amazing piece of art! J. Henri Fabre is a master of the written word. His prose is like poetry! He presents many interesting experiments with a diverse group of local spiders and manages to keep your interest even if you have an arachnophobia! Great little read! Highly recommended!

Inspired from Gerald Durrell

Extremely interesting experiments and insight into the lives and minds of our favorite backyard bugs.

Fascinating. I enjoyed this book about spiders, and I learned a lot.

“[The] Spider is well worth studying, apart from any scientific reasons; but she is said to be poisonous and that is her crime and the primary cause of the repugnance wherewith she inspires us. Poisonous, I agree, if by that we un

I did enjoy reading this very informational book. It must have taken a lot of patience and time to complete these experiments. Brilliant observation and detailed information. I learnt a lot! and would never have known half of these things if it wasn't for this book. Brilliant for any spider enthusia

Details, not dry facts but observations gathered so carefully and then presented as a beautiful web, get the reader up and close to a few types of spiders native to the author’s neighborhood. Through these types, we learn how they build their homes, how they catch their food, how they mate, and how

Surprisingly, this was a big favorite with the kids--archaic language and all. Rather than fearing spiders, they are now plotting to capture some of our more impressive neighbors for closer observation. The author's descriptions of his close, patient study helped turn my children into little natural

As someone who has mild arachnophobia, I enjoyed reading this book.

It presents spiders from an objective perspective: they're not scary, they're wild animals (predators, to be more precise; and they're very good at it). Their instincts are geared towards about eating, mating and staying alive. Despi

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