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Distributed for French National Museum Natural History

Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

Twenty Lessons from the First Half of the Eighteenth Century

Here, for the first time in English, is Georges Cuvier’s extraordinary History of the Natural Sciences from Its Origin to the Present Day. Based on a series of public lectures presented by Cuvier from 1829 to 1832, this third of a five-volume series, translated from the original French and heavily annotated with commentary, is a detailed chronological survey of the natural sciences spanning roughly fifty years from the close of the seventeenth century to approximately 1750. It is truly astonishing in its detail and scope: Cuvier was fluent in many languages—English, German, Spanish, and certainly Latin, in addition to French—and was therefore well prepared to investigate and interpret firsthand the scientific literature of Europe as a whole. The work is an affirmation of Cuvier’s vast encyclopedic knowledge, his complete command of the scientific and historical literature, and his incomparable memory. This history is remarkable also for providing in one place a large set of useful references to a vast ancient literature that is not easily found anywhere else. This huge body of information provides us furthermore with unique insight into Cuvier’s concept of the natural sciences, and to the vast breadth and progress of this human endeavor. With this work, Cuvier fills an important gap in philosophical thought between the time of Carl Linnaeus and Charles Darwin.

576 pages | 40 figures | 6 1/2 x 9 1/2 | © 2018

History of Science


"...the first English translation of lectures delivered by Georges Cuvier (the great French comparative anatomist) between 1829–1832. These lectures follow the development of science (not limited to natural history) from antiquity to the then-present day."

The Quarterly Review of Biology

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