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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

Am citit cu mare plăcere această ”broșurică”, pe care o recomand cu mare plăcere cititorilor care nu văd păianjenii ca pe niște monstruleți; chiar și așa, stilul de a scrie a lui Fabre poate modifica ușor acest lucru.

An excellent description of the lives of various species of spider. Very interesting and readable. I wonder if some of this information--the book was issued in 1912--is out of date; e.g., Are the little spiders on the back of one species (I think tarantula) really nourished by the sun for seven m...more

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...more

Inspired from Gerald Durrell

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

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 enthu...more

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 h...more

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 natu...more

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. De...more

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