Jean Henri Fabre

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Jean Henri Fabre (22 December 182311 October 1915) was a French entomologist, and one of the founders of the study of insect behaviour. He was also an accomplished writer and teacher.

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  • Without feeling abashed by my ignorance, I confess that I am absolutely unable to say. In the absence of an appearance of learning, my answer has at least one merit, that of perfect sincerity.
    • Writing about the horns of Onthophagus, in 'The Onthophagi'


  • But what is the use of this history, what the use of all this minute research ? I well know that it will not produce a fall in the price of pepper, a rise in that of crates of rotten cabbages, or other serious events of this kind, which cause fleets to be manned and set people face to face intent upon one another's extermination. The insect does not aim at so much glory. It confines itself to showing us life in the inexhaustible variety of its manifestations; it helps us to decipher in some small measure the obscurest book of all, the book of ourselves.
    • In 'Minotaurus typhoeus'


  • Do you know the Halicti ? Perhaps not. There is no great harm done: it is quite possible to enjoy the few pleasures of life without knowing the Halicti. Nevertheless, when questioned with persistence, those humble creatures with no history can tell us some very singular things; and their acquaintance is not to be disdained if we desire to enlarge our ideas a little upon the bewildering rabble of this world. Since we have nothing better to do, let us look into these Halicti. They are worth the trouble.
    • In 'The Halicti'


  • In many cases, ignorance is a good thing : the mind retains its freedom of investigation and does not stray along roads that lead nowhither, suggested by one's reading. I have experienced this once again. ... Yes, ignorance can have its advantages; the new is found far from the beaten track.
    • In 'The Languedocian Scorpion'
  • I have made it a rule to adopt the method of ignorance in my investigations into instincts. I read very little. ... I know nothing. So much the better : my queries will be all the freer, now in this direction, now in the opposite, according to the lights obtained.
    • In 'The Languedocian Scorpion'
  • The best thing is to say good-bye, not without a certain regret on my part. One of these days. I will take you and scatter you in your territory, the rock-strewn slope where the sun is so hot. ... There you will learn the hard struggle for life better than you would with me.
    • In 'The Languedocian Scorpion'
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