Linnaeus in Italy: The Spread of a Revolution in Science

Linnaeus in Italy: The Spread of a Revolution in Science

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Beretta, Marco, and Alessandro Tosi, eds., 2007, xxiii + 340pp., illus., clothbound hardcover, jacketed


With the coexistence of such contrasting and highly differentiated cultural and political currents in a territory linked—albeit in a somewhat unhomogenous manner—by a single language, Italy constitutes a perfect microcosm of the main intellectual currents present in the 18th-century Europe and from this historical perspective a significant case study in the complex dynamics that shaped the reception, influence, and appropriation of the Linnaean revolution. In particular, it illustrates the process by which the works of a devotedly protestant scientist gradually conquered a country that was, at least in appearance, devotedly Catholic. As emerges clearly from the overview provided by the essays published here, Linnaeus's theories found both solid support and clamorous denial, underlining the subterranean mélange of personal, political, cultural and religious motives that influenced the diffusion of the 'new' natural sciences as conceived by Linnaeus in systema naturae.


“ . . . The range and quality of the expertise is impressive. The editors can take pride in having produced what is almost certainly the most important contribution to the Linnaean tercentenary—and they have done so in Pisa, far from the recognized centers of Linnaean study, Uppsala, Stockholm, and London. What is more, they have created a model for the study of mechanisms operating in the spread of learning of all sorts.” —Early Science and Medicine, 2008, 13

“ . . . a useful starting point for research on Italian naturalists of the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. Its broad scope means that there is something in it to interest anyone concerned with the natural history or sociology of science of the period.” —Isis

“ . . . The scholarly essays to be found here consider Linnaeus’s theories, their public representation and reception, and how these theories found support and controversy in all sectors of Italian society. Plenty of footnoted scholarly references assure college-level readers receive the best in researched science history.” —California Bookwatch