UMass Amherst
Francesco Redi

Esperienze intorno alla generazione degl'insetti fatte da Francesco Redi ... e da lvi scritte in vna lettera all'illvstrissimo Signor Carlo Dati..
Firenze, All'insegna della Stella, 1668.
3 p. l., 228 p. illus., plates (part fold.) 24 cm.

Call no.: QL496.R35 1668.

A physician and poet, Francesco Redi (1626-1698) moved to Florence in 1654 to become physician to the Grand dukes Ferdinand II and Cosimo III. There, under the influence of empiricism and an early Enlightenment rationality, Redi turned his attention to testing the ancient theory of spontaneous generation. According to this theory, insects and parasites arose spontaneously from rotting matter. His masterpiece, Esperienze intorno alla generazione degl'insetti fatte da Francesco Redi, includes a rigorous account of one of the first examples of an experiment in the modern senses, with appropriate controls.

Redi set out meat to rot in a variety of flasks, some open to air (and flies), and others closed off by a cover of gauze. As predicted, maggots appeared only in the open flasks. Carlo Dati, who is named as the recipient of the letters on which Redi's volume was based, was another advanced thinker, a disciple of Galileo and Toricelli and noted linguist.

The SCUA edition of Redi's masterwork includes a rare extra plate (no. 29) depicting a mosquito.

title page

insects on plant