The Life of the Spider/Translator's Note

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The Life of the Spider  (1912)  by Jean-Henri Fabre, translated by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos
Translator's Note

New York: Blue Ribbon Books, pages 36-38


The following essays have been selected from the ten volumes composing the Souvenirs entomologiques. Although a good deal of Henri Fabre's masterpiece has been published in English, none of the articles treating of spiders has been issued before, with the exception of that forming Chapter II of the present volume, The Banded Epeira, which first appeared in The English Review. The rest are new to England and America.

The Fabre books already published are Insect Life, translated by the author of Mademoiselle Mori (Macmillan Co., 1901); The Life and Love of the Insect, translated by myself (Macmillan Co., 1911); and Social Life in the Insect World, translated by Mr. Bernard Miall (Century Co., 1912). References to the above volumes will be found, whenever necessary, in the foot-notes to the present edition.

For the rest, I have tried not to overburden my version with notes; and, in view of this, I have, as far as possible, simplified the scientific terms that occur in the text. In so doing I know that I have but followed the wishes of the author, who never wearies of protesting against 'the barbarous terminology' favoured by his brother-naturalists. The matter became even more urgent in English than in any of the Latin languages; and I readily agreed when it was pointed out to me that, in a work essentially intended for general reading, there was no purpose in speaking of a Coleopteron when the word 'beetle' was to hand. In cases where an insect had inevitably to be mentioned by its Greek or Latin name, a note is given explaining, in the fewest words, the nature of the insect in question.

I have to thank my friend, M. Maurice Maeterlinck, for the stately preface which he has contributed to this volume, and Mr. Marmaduke Langdale and Miss Frances Rodwell for the generous assistance which they have given me in the details of my work. And I am also greatly indebted to Mr. W. S. Graff Baker for his invaluable help with the mathematical difficulties that confronted me in the translation of the Appendix.

Alexander Teixeira de Mattos.

Chelsea, 10 October, 1912.