The Cell in Development and Inheritance

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Abstract

ORIGINALLY produced as the substance of a series of lectures of a popular character upon the problems of individual development and inheritance, the book; which Prof. Wilson has given us has taken a form which, while it can hardly longer be described as “popular,” will be admitted by the more strictly scientific audience, to which it is now better adapted, to be in the highest degree fascinating. The advances which cellular biology has made, and is making at the present moment, can only be described as “leaps and bounds,” and to no part of the study of the cell will this apply with greater force than to that dealing with cell-propagation. A question which seemed to our fathers, and for the matter of that to some of ourselves not so very many years ago, as of the simplest nature and capable of being described in half a dozen lines, can no longer be adequately dealt with except in a volume devoted exclusively to it, and by men who make its study the business of their lives. And although works in other languages upon the subject, such as those of O. Hertwig and Henneguy, are available for the student, it is none the less a matter for congratulation that Prof. Wilson has given us in our own speech a work which is second to none in the clear and comprehensive manner in which the facts of cell-structure and division are set forth, and the masterly way in which the principal theories which have been founded upon these facts are stated and criticised. Not the least striking feature of the book is the lavish way in which it is illustrated—a prime necessity in a work of this kind if it is to be easily read and understood. At the same time it is clear that the illustrations are carefully selected in each case with the object of presenting either a special fact or idea. And although, as might be expected from his position as a zoologist, Prof. Wilson has for the most part relied upon material furnished by the animal kingdom in illustration of his subject, he has not hesitated when occasion has offered to draw upon the important series of observations which have accumulated of late years in vegetable cytology.

The Cell in Development and Inheritance.

By Edmund B. Wilson, Professor of Invertebrate Zoology, Columbia University. (Columbia University Biological Series IV.) Pp. xvi. 371. (New York: The Macmillan Company. London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1896.)

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