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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book, Web of nature : Martin Lister (1639-1712), the first arachnologist, which shows that like the spiders he studied, Lister spun a citadel of unsurpassed scientific imagination and that he was a real superhero, a real spider-man to renowned natural philosophers such as Carl Linnaeus, Charles Lyell, and Charles Darwin, as well to scientists today. The book portrays Dr Lister's contributions to natural history and medicine. It examines his role as a nexus for the republic of letters and scientific knowledge in the late seventeenth century. Just as Lister was the first person to make a systematic study of spiders and their webs, the book will be the first to analyze the significant webs of knowledge and patronage that governed his intellectual life.

Keywords: Carl Linnaeus; Charles Darwin; Martin Lister; medicine; natural history; naturalist; philosophers; scientific knowledge; spiders; virtuoso



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