This is a very basic translation by a unilingual slob with the irrational, illogical, and unrealistic dream of becoming a polyglot before senility strikes. The original French is online so you can compare and scoff. Kind and gentle corrections, sympathy, empathy and downright pity are very welcome, so let me know here.

From Curious Archives, or Singularities, Curiosities and Novel Anecdotes of Literature, History, Sciences and Arts, Etc., Paris: House of Guyot de Frere, Editor; 1834; pp. 161-163.



For a long time they have observed that the parasitic worm which one often encounters in the green grasshopper, has the singular faculty, after having been completely dried out, at least in appearance, in the open air, in the sun or in the shade, of regaining little by little its movements as actively as before the experiment, when one returns to it the moisture of which it had been deprived.

Mr. Blainville has verified this fact upon an individual of that genus found in the outer layer of the hoof of a horse; dried and thinned as a little strap of parchment, it soon recovered its ordinary movements, being dampened with a certain quantity of water.

But the singularity of this type of resurrection, is even more extraordinary in the rotifer of Spallunzani.

In putting some water for an hour, upon a speck of dust well dried, held inside a gutter, at the place where the incline necessarily leaves a certain amount of water which evaporates without flowing out, one sees, at the end of 30 to 50 minutes, this little animal appear with movements as lively as those that it had beforehand. This observer is himself equally assured that the desiccated individuals, out of the shelter of the grains of dust, 129 swelling up, recover little by little their form, but do not really come back to life again.

This discovery was, and is, a startling one. The proof that after being totally dehydrated and apparently lifeless, an organism could come back to life again after being rehydrated caused a sensation. It sparked the imagination of Edmond About, a famous French journalist in the middle of the 19th century. The experiment of Spallunzani and his little rotifers inspired him to write a fantastic and very funny early science fiction novel. The complete story is on Elfinspell and is called The Man With the Broken Ear, translated by Henry Holt, with notes.

Copyright © by Susan Rhoads, Elfinspell 2008