The Life of the Spider
is a book by Jean-Henri Fabre
. It is one of a series of books written by Fabre on insects and other arthropods, and was translated from the original French in 1912. Fabre died in 1915, but his translator Alexander Teixeira de Mattos
continued work until 1922, perpetuating the author's popularity.
Fabre was a teacher, physicist, chemist, and botanist, but is best known for his work in entomology. He published a series of papers in Souvenirs Entomologiques, and influenced the later writings of Charles Darwin, who called Fabre "an inimitable observer". His special force was exact and detailed observation, field research, always avoiding general conclusions from his observations.
THE Spider has a bad name: to most of us, she represents an odious, noxious animal, which every one hastens to crush under foot. Against this summary verdict the observer sets the beast's industry, its talent as a weaver, its wiliness in the chase, its tragic nuptials and other characteristics of great interest. Yes, 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 understand that the animal is armed with two fangs which cause the immediate death of the little victims which it catches; but there is a wide difference between killing a Midge and harming a man. However immediate in its effects upon the insect entangled in the fatal web, the Spider's poison is not serious for us and causes less inconvenience than a Gnat-bite. That, at least, is what we can safely say as regards the great majority of the Spiders of our regions.
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