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Jean Henri Fabre


FABRE, JEAN HENRI (1823-1915), French entomologist, was born of humble parents at St. Leons in Aveyron on Dec. 21, 1823. Having received an elementary classical education at Rodez and at the ecole normale of Vaucluse, he taught successively at Carpentras, at the college of Ajaccio, Corsica, and in 1852 at the lycee of Avignon. Meanwhile he had taken his doctor's degree in Paris and had discovered that his life-work was to be the study of the life-history, habits and instincts of insects, a study which became his sole occupation after his retirement to Serignan in 1871. There he lived an extremely secluded life, absorbed in his study. He took no account of books, and all his work was based on direct observation. Although the ways of all insects interested him, his attention was given chiefly to the hymenop tera, coleoptera, orthoptera, as well as to spiders. Of the first, the wasps, with their skill in stinging their prey in the region of the nervous ganglia so as to paralyse it and preserve it living as food for their young, seemed to Fabre to show an intelligence irreconci lable with the theory of fixed habits. Other researches led him to oppose the theory of evolution. His incomparable observations, his deductions concerning the relation between the animal and the human mind, and between entomology and agriculture, are detailed in Annales des sciences naturelles and in the 10 vols. of Souvenirs entomologiques (Eng. trans. by De Mattos, 1912 sqq.) which was crowned by the Institute of France. A member of many academies and scientific societies, Fabre died at Serignan, Provence, on Oct. 11, 1915.

See A. Fabre, Fabre (Eng. trans., 1921) ; C. V. Legros, Fabre, Poet of Science (Eng. trans., 1913) ; and P. F. Bicknell, The Human Side of Fabre (New York, 1923) . See also BEE and INSECTS.

trans, eng and study