Leo Lionni

Bill Shear BILLS at HSC.EDU
Fri Oct 22 10:52:58 CDT 1999

I noted the recent death of Italian writer and artist Leo Lionni.

One of my all-time favorite books is Lionni's "Parallel Botany."  If you
don't know this marvellously witty satire on systematic botany, you should
get it and read it (published by Knopf in 1978, translation by Patrick

"Each individual species has some special anomaly of its own, of course.
and these are more difficult to define and far more disconcerting, though
they are always attributable to some abnormal substance that rejects the
most basic gravitational restrictions.  There are some plants, for
instance, that appear clearly in photographs but are imperceptible to the
naked eye.  Some violate the normal rules of perspective, looking the same
size however near or far they may be from us.  Others are colorless, but
under certain conditions reveal a profusion of colors of exceptional
beauty.  One of them has leaves with such a tangled maze of veins that it
caused the extinction of a voracious insect that had at one time threatened
the vegetation of an entire continent."

--Leo Lionni, "Parallel Botany" p. 12.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374
email<bills at hsc.edu>

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