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Solitude of a Humble Genius - Gregor Johann Mendel, Volume 1: Formative Years

Biography / Memoir

Series: Solitude of a Humble Genius Volume: 1

By: Jan Klein (Author), Norman Klein (Author)

418 pages, 2 colour & 84 b/w illustrations


Hardback | Jun 2013 | #206515 | ISBN-13: 9783642352539
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £138.00 $169/€155 approx

About this book

Gregor Johann Mendel continues to fascinate the general public as well as scholars, the former for his life and the latter for his achievements. Solitude of a Humble Genius is a two-volume biography presenting Mendel in the context of the history of biology and philosophy, and in the context of the setting in which he lived and worked. In this first volume the authors set the stage for a new interpretation of Mendel's achievements and personality.

The period of Mendel's life covered by Solitude of a Humble Genius: Volume 1 is critical to understanding why he saw what other biologists, including Charles Darwin, for example, didn't. In searching for clues to Mendel's thinking, the authors discuss at length the origin of his genes; the history of the region of his birth; they also spend a day and then the four seasons of the year with his family; and finally they examine the schooling he received, as well as the cultural and political influences he was exposed to.

An indispensible part of the work is Norman Klein's artwork. In this first volume alone, it comprises nearly 80 original drawings and includes cartoons that enliven the narration, scenes from Mendel's life, portraits, and plans and drawings of the cities and buildings in which he lived, studied, and worked.


Chapter One

Prelude: Heredity, Sex, and Species – the Greek View


            The Mutiny of Reason

            Change or No Change?

            Plato’s Myth

            Enter Aristotle and His Inventory of Reality

            The Hylomorphic Doctrine

            Aristotle’s Theory of Change

            Aristotle’s Concept of Animal Reproduction

                        The Kinds of Animal

                        The Origin of the Semen

                        The Quest for the Female Semen

                        The Origin of a New Individual

                        Embryonic Development

                        Generation in Plants

                        Spontaneous Generation

            Aristotle’s Theory of Inheritance

            Aristotle’s Species Concept

            Where Modern Genetics Meets Old Aristotle

            How Does Mendel Fit Into All This?


Chapter Two

Silesia and Moravia – Mendel’s Tortured Homeland


            Geographica Mendeliana

            The Birth of the Land

            Prehistoric Moravia/Silesia

            The Language Tree of Europe

            The Path to Modern Europe

            The Ascension of the Slavs

            Western Slavs’ Search for New Homeland

            Lands of the Czech Crown

                        Lužice (Lusacia)

                        Slezsko (Silesia)

                        Morava (Moravia)

                        Čechy (Bohemia)

            A Kingdom Granted and a Kingdom Stolen

            Islets of German-speaking People in the Czech Lands

Origin of Mendel’s Genes


Chapter Three

The First Decade: The Childhood of a Farmer’s Son



            The Odry Domain

            Hynčice and Veselí


            The Surname


            Teachers and Philanthropists

            Farmstead No. 58

            Johann Mendel is Born

            Sisters and Other Relatives

            The State of the Empire

            A Day at Home With the Mendels

            A Year of the Natural Cycle on Anton Mendel’s Farm

            A Year in a Village

            The Birth of a Naturalist

            A Momentous Decision

            Inevitability and Serendipity: Part 1

            Postscript: Mendel’s Nationality


Chapter Four

Johann Mendel’s Lehrjahre: The Second Decade


            Lipník nad Bečvou

            The Empire’s Schools

            The Prämiant



            Inevitability and Serendipity: Part 2


Chapter Five

The Third Decade: The Vow


            The City on Two Rivers

            The Augustinians

            The Abbey of St. Thomas in Staré Brno

            The Novice Gregor Mendel

Abbot Cyril Franz von Napp (1792 – 1867): Scholar, Diplomat, and Moravian     Patriot

The St. Thomas Quartet and the Other Augustinians

Philosophy and Linguistics at the St. Thomas Abbey

Music at the St. Thomas Abbey

Natural Sciences at the St. Thomas Abbey

Plant and Animal Breeding in Moravia and at the St. Thomas Abbey

An Overgrown Path

The Road to Priesthood

The Troubled Shepherd of Souls

The Patient Mendel

Inevitability and Serendipity: Part 3


Chapter Six

Into the Fourth Decade: The Failed Professor


            The Year of Revolutions

            Time Jerked the Curtain – and the World Changed!

            Calm Spring and Hot Summer in Prague

            1848 in Brno

            Revolution Knocks at the Gate of the St. Thomas Abbey

            The Revolt of the Friars

            The Bach Decade of Darkness

            The Birth and Death of Kakania

            The Bishop’s Throne in Brno

            An Apostolic Visitation

            Napp’s Dilemma

            Znojmo: One Year in Haven

            Preparation For an Examination

            Jacta Alea Est!

            The Examiners

            The Essays

            Behind Locked Doors

Viva Voce

Substitute Teacher at Brno’s Technical Institute

Rushing to Vienna

The Imperial-Royal Capital and Residence: Vienna

The University of Vienna

Getting Settled at Vienna

Student of Physics

Natural History at the University of Vienna

Student of Botany

The Lackadaisical Student of Zoology

Student of Chemistry

Student of Paleontology and Mathematics

Membership in a Society and First Publications

Private Life in Vienna

Visit in Hynčice

Failed Examination: Act Two

Substitute Teacher at the Realschule

What Had Mendel Learned in Vienna?

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