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Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

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Georges Cuvier

Introduction

Theodore Wells Pietsch

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Much has been written about Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric Cuvier (born 23 August 1769, died 13 May 1832), better known by his adopted name, Georges Cuvier. Numerous authors1 have described his early years at Montbéliard, his birthplace in the present French department of Doubs, close to the Swiss border; his education at the Academy of Stuttgart; his employment as tutor to the sons of the Count d’Héricy, who resided in Normandy; and his meteoric rise at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, under the initial sponsorship of Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (born 15 April 1772, died 19 June 1844). But his service and expertise as a public lecturer are topics yet to be fully explored. Certainly Cuvier, well before mid-career, was a notably effective speaker no matter what the venue, whether it was before his colleagues at the Jardin des Plantes or the Académie des Sciences, or in his role as professor at the Collège de France. But it wasn’t always that way. According to Jean B...

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