Drawing on letters, poems, notebooks, and secret diaries, Lisbet Koemer tells the moving story of one of the most famous naturalists who ever lived, the Swedish-born botanist and systematizer, Carl Linnaeus. The first scholarly biography of this great Enlightenment scientist in almost one hundred years, this book also recounts for the first time Linnaeus' grand and bizarre economic project to "teach" tea, saffron, and rice to grow on the Arctic tundra and to domesticate buffaloes, guinea pigs, and elks as Swedish farm animals. Linnaeus hoped to reproduce the economy of empire and colony within the borders of his family home by growing cash crops in northern Europe. The author shows us the often surprising ways he embarked on this project. Her narrative goes against the grain of Linnaean scholarship old and new by analyzing not how modern Linnaeus was, but how he understood science in his time. At the same time, his attempts to organize a state economy according to principles of science prefigured an idea that has become one of the defining features of modernity. This book should be of interest to historians of the Enlightenment, historians of science and by general readers as well.
Lisbet Koerner is an associate of the Department of the History of Science, Harvard University.
Introduction. "To Apply Nature to Economics and Vice Versa" "A Geography of Nature": Natural Philosophy "A Clapper into a Bell": Floral Names "The Lapp Is Our Teacher": Medicine and Ethnography "God's Endless Larder": Theology "A New WorldPepper, Ginger, Cardamon": Economic Theory "Should Coconuts Chance to Come into My Hands": Acclimatization Experiments "The Lord of All of Sweden's Clams": A Local Life "His Farmers Dressed in Mourning": The Fate of Linnaeus' Ideas in Sweden Conclusion. "Without Science Our Herrings Would Still Be Caught by Foreigners": A Local Modernity Appendix: Chronology of Linnaeus and Linnaeana Appendix: Biographical References Abbreviations Notes Works Cited Acknowledgments Index