The Man Who Organized Nature: The Life of Linnaeus


The Man Who Organized Nature: The Life of Linnaeus Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: Princeton University Press
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Pages: 512 Illustrations and other contents: 18 color + 55 b/w illus. ISBN: 9780691213422 Categories: , , Tag:

A new biography of Carl Linnaeus, offering a vivid portrait of Linnaeus’s life and work. Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), known as the father of modern biological taxonomy, formalized and popularized the system of binomial nomenclature used to classify plants and animals. Linnaeus himself classified thousands of species; the simple and immediately recognizable abbreviation “L” is used to mark classifications originally made by Linnaeus. This biography, written by Professor Gunnar Broberg, the leading authority on Linnaeus, and translated by Anna Paterson, offers a vivid portrait of Linnaeus’s life and work.

Drawing on a wide range of previously unpublished sources-including diaries and personal correspondence-as well as new research, it presents revealing and original accounts of his family life, the political context in which he pursued his work, and his eccentric views on sexuality. The Man Who Organized Nature describes Linnaeus’s childhood in a landscape of striking natural beauty and how this influenced his later work. Linnaeus’s Lutheran pastor father, knowledgeable about plants and an enthusiastic gardener, helped foster an early interest in botany.

The book examines the political connections that helped Linnaeus secure patronage for his work, and untangles his ideas about sexuality. These were not, as often assumed, an attempt to naturalize gender categories but more likely reflected the laissez-faire attitudes of the era. Linnaeus, like many other brilliant scientists, could be moody and egotistical; the book describes his human failings as well as his medical and scientific achievements.

Written in an engaging and accessible style, The Man Who Organized Nature – one of the only biographies of Linnaeus to appear in English – provides new and fascinating insights into the life of one of history’s most consequential and enigmatic scientists.

Weight1.65 kg



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 "Whether we realize it or not, we live in a Linnaean world. . . . [A]n excellent starting point for the general reader. Dispensing with the prevalent image of Linnaeus as nature's dullest bookkeeper, Broberg paints a moving portrait of a profoundly vulnerable human being."---Christopher Irmscher, Wall Street Journal"A detailed account of his subject's work as well as his 'darker aspects.' . . . Writing for a general audience. . . . Everything you ever wanted to know about Linnaeus and more." * Kirkus Reviews *

Author Biography

Gunnar Broberg (1942-2022) was professor emeritus of history of ideas and sciences at Lund University in Sweden. He was the author of numerous books, including Golden Apples, which won the August Prize for best Swedish nonfiction title of the year, and The History of the Night, which was nominated for Best Swedish History Book of the Year. Anna Paterson, a retired neuroscientist, is an award-winning translator and the author of Scotland's Landscape: Endangered Icon.