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Bugs and the Victorians Hardcover – July 21, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0300150919 ISBN-10: 0300150911 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (July 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300150911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300150919
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,609,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book gives a fascinating and historically grounded sense of the multiple lives of insects and their students in Victorian Britain. It is beautifully written."—Charlotte Sleigh, The British Journal for the History of Science
(Charlotte Sleigh The British Journal for the History of Science)

"Bugs and the Victorians is essential reading for those drawn to the social and economic upheaval of early Victorian life and how that upheaval influenced the development of science and vice versa."--Arthur V. Evans, Victorian Studies
(Arthur V. Evans Victorian Studies)

About the Author

John F McDiarmid Clark is director, Institute for Environmental History, and lecturer, School of History, University of St. Andrews. He lives in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ronald H. Clark VINE VOICE on November 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being interested in Victorian science, I assumed that this would be a nice treatise on 19th century entomology similar to other books I have read on Victorian botany and astronomy. To be sure, it is that but surprisingly it turned out to be much more and quite interesting. The author relates how the study of insects became integral to political and ideological issues. For example, could bugs think and reason? If so, this supported Darwinian theories and evolution and undermined Paley's natural theology. And if Darwin were correct, might that indicate that the nice Victorian well-constructed social structure (royal family and wealthy landowners at the top; the poor at the bottom) was not the natural order of things and could be changed. Could bugs be Socialistic? In the wake of the upsetting French Revolution, could intensive studies of insects (particular honey bees) help provide a greater measure of agricultural independence and self-sufficiency for Britain? How could entomology contribute to supporting the Empire through fighting inspect-transmitted diseases like Malaria, Yellow Fever, and tsetse fly-related maladies? How did slavery among insects relate to its human counterpart?

Therefore, the book is about far more than the development of professional entomology. Nonetheless, the author does a solid job in explaining how these amateur collection activities developed into academic and governmental specialized professions. He discusses the Association for the Advancement of Society, the Entomological Society of London, and other organizations that came into existence as the interest in insects increased. Then the government became interested in this new area of study and eventually even Oxford took a look.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Insects, even the greatest of couch potatoes knows, are everywhere. If you weighed all the insects and weighed all the people on the planet, insects would win. Insects win in the species race, too; there are something like 800,000 insect species, and only 4,500 mammalian ones. They are influential; everyone knows what pests mosquitoes or cockroaches are, although the benefits of bees and other pollinators are often overlooked. So it is not surprising that the study of insects should not only be important, but historically ought to reflect the influence of our scientific view on the natural world. It is surprising, however, that insects have influenced social or political views. These are among the lessons in _Bugs and the Victorians_ (Yale University Press) by environmental historian J. F. M. Clark. The author has traced the influence not of insects but of the study of insects from the nineteenth century into some of the twentieth, mostly within England, charting entomology from harmless but eccentric diversion into a scientific and economic mainstay.

Collecting insects started out as a religious exercise: "Like a close reading of the Bible," says Clark, "a close examination of nature afforded proof of the existence of God... The number, diversity, and scale of insects rendered them a favourite subject of natural theologians." Parsons in the Anglican church could find lessons in their tiny objects of study. Bees, for instance, displayed all sorts of good lessons. There was a queen at the top of a hierarchical social order, for instance, although it had taken a century or two to come to some acceptance that it was a queen rather than a king bee. It was possibly best not to take lessons too closely: "...
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By K. B. Prior on December 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
great price compared to other places
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