The ovary of Eve: egg and sperm and preformation by Clara Pinto-Correia

By Clara Pinto-Correia

The Ovary of Eve is a wealthy and sometimes hilarious account of 17th- and eighteenth-century efforts to appreciate belief. In those early years of the medical Revolution, the main clever women and men of the day struggled to come back to phrases with the origins of recent existence, and one theory—preformation—sparked an intensely heated debate that persisted for over 100 years. Clara Pinto-Correia strains the background of this a lot maligned thought throughout the cultural capitals of Europe.

"The such a lot splendidly eye-opening, or imagination-opening booklet, as fun because it is instructive."—Mary Warnock, London Observer

"[A] attention-grabbing and infrequently funny examine of a reproductive idea that flourished from the mid-17th century to the mid-18th century."—Nina C. Ayoub, Chronicle of upper Education

"More than simply a very good tale, The Ovary of Eve is an item lesson concerning the background of technological know-how: do not belief it. . . . Pinto-Correia says she desires to inform the tale of history's losers. In doing so, she makes defeat sound extra beautiful than victory."—Emily Eakin, Nation

"A gleaming background of preformation because it as soon as affected each aspect of ecu culture."—Robert Taylor, Boston Globe

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H e also insisted that diversity in nature was necessary to emphasize God’s power: If God, when creating the world, would have produced an endless matter without endowing it with any movement, all the bodies would be similar; all this vis- 21 All About Eve ible world would be nothing but a mass of matter that could by itself testify to the power and majesty of its Creator; but there would not be that succession of forms and that variety of bodies which makes all the beauty of the Universe, and that brings all spirits to admire the infinite wisdom of He who governs them.

20 Like Malebranche, he saw everything in God. ” Very precise descriptions of different stages of insect development, illustrated by equally careful and detailed drawings, are often immediately followed by statements such as the changes therefore, which we observe in vegetative animals, are equally observable in sensible ones, so as to afford us in all God’s works the most manifest proof of God’s wisdom and power, which man can neither imitate nor comprehend; for as the foundations of all created beings are few and simple, so the agreement between them is most surprisingly regular and harmonious, everything conspiring equally to fill us with sentiments of admiration and reverence for the great Author of Nature.

And we share numerous everyday biological observations. We have always seen animals hatching from eggs. In addition, myths about the world hatching from an egg abound in all cultures, and so do cosmogonies that compare the earth to an egg and the universe to its shell. Therefore, it only made sense for the first preformationists to be convinced ovists (as opposed to the spermists, who would claim later that everything started with the sperm cell). In their original scenario, since the naturalists who endorsed the theory were all Christians (albeit of different confessions) and did not challenge the authenticity of the biblical Genesis, all future human history had originally been encased inside the ovary of Eve, in the fashion of a Russian doll.

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