NABOKV-L post 0017607, Thu, 22 Jan 2009 14:41:00 -0200

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[NABOKOV-L] St.Anthony's fire and John Ray
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Dear List,

A PS, concerning the mention of John Ray in relation to Ergotism: I finally concluded that this field-naturalist's name would not have been unknown to Nabokov because many of their interests and views overlapped in relation to "species" and the classification of plants, insects...
Like Nabokov, John Ray is related to Cambridge, he was a minor fellow of Trinity.
Below are some excerpts from Wiki, the most important items are underlined.
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Here is what I got from Wiki: John Ray (November 29, 1627 - January 17, 1705) was an English naturalist, sometimes referred to as the father of English natural history. Until 1670, he wrote his name as John Wray although no one knows why.He published important works on plants, animals, and natural theology. His classification of plants in his Historia Plantarum, was an important step towards modern taxonomy. Ray rejected the system of dichotomous division by which species were classified according to a pre-conceived, either/or type system, and instead classified plants according to similarities and differences that emerged from observation. Thus he advanced scientific empiricism against the deductive rationalism of the scholastics. He is also known for having coined the term "species."

Ray was chosen minor fellow of Trinity in 1649, and in due course became a major fellow on proceeding to the master's degree...he was accustomed to preach in his college chapel and also at Great St Mary's before the university, long before he took holy orders. Among his sermons preached before his ordination, which was not till the 23 December 1660, were the famous discourses on The Wisdom of God in the Creation, and on Deluge and Dissolution of the World. Ray's reputation was high also as a tutor; and he communicated his own passion for natural history to several pupils, of whom Francis Willughby is by far the most famous.John Ray (November 29, 1627 - January 17, 1705) was an English naturalist, sometimes referred to as the father of English natural history. Until 1670, he wrote his name as John Wray although no one knows why.[citation needed][1]
He published important works on plants, animals, and natural theology. His classification of plants in his Historia Plantarum, was an important step towards modern taxonomy. Ray rejected the system of dichotomous division by which species were classified according to a pre-conceived, either/or type system, and instead classified plants according to similarities and differences that emerged from observation. Thus he advanced scientific empiricism against the deductive rationalism of the scholastics. He is also known for having coined the term "species."
Besides editing his friend Francis Willughby's books, Ray wrote several zoological works of his own, including Synopsis methodica Animalium Quadrupedum et Serpentini Generis (1693), that is to say, both mammals and reptiles, and Synopsis methodica Avium et Piscium (1713); the latter was published posthumously, as was also the more important Historia Insectorum, which embodied a great mass of Willughbys notes.
Most of Ray's minor works were the outcome of his faculty for carefully amassing facts; for instance, his Collection of English Proverbs (1670), his Collection of Out-of-the-way English Words (1674), his Collection of Curious Travels and Voyages (1693), and his Dictionariolum trilingue (1675, 5th edition as Nomenclator classicus, 1706). The last was written for the use of Willughby's sons, his pupils; it passed through many editions, and is still useful for its careful identifications of plants and animals mentioned by Greek and Latin writers. But Ray's influence and reputation have depended largely upon his two books entitled The Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of the Creation (1691), and Miscellaneous Discourses concerning the Dissolution and Changes of the World (1692). The latter includes three essays on The Primitive Chaos and Creation of the World, The General Deluge, its Causes and Effects, and The Dissolution of the World and Future Conflagrations. The germ of these works was contained in sermons preached long before in Cambridge. Both books obtained immediate popularity, and the former, at least, was translated into several languages. In The Wisdom of God Ray recites innumerable examples of the perfection of organic mechanism, the multitude and variety of living creatures, the minuteness and usefulness of their parts, and many, if not most, of the familiar examples of purposive adaptation and design in nature were suggested by him, such as the structure of the eye, the hollowness of the bones, the camel's stomach and the hedgehog's armour

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