Good Responses to Our Mendel Work


Dan Fairbanks, the instigator behind our Darwinized translation of Gregor Mendel’s famous paper on hybridity in plants, is currently in Brno, Czech Republic, where Mendel worked in his monastery. They are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the paper’s publication. A series of Dan’s paintings are on exhibit, and our translation of the paper and Dan’s analysis of Mendel’s use of Darwin’s Origin of Species are being talked about according to these emails from Dan:


I’m in Brno right now, finishing the setup of artwork for exhibit at the Moravian Museum, which will open tomorrow. I had lunch with Jiri Sekerak, the head of the Mendelianum section of the museum. He commented on how impressed he was with our translation, which, as you’ll recall, is currently featured on the Moravian Museum’s Mendelianum homepage. Interestingly he and Anna Matalová (his predecessor, now retired) recently published a new Czech translation, so he was especially interested in ours, and noted how he liked our word choices for certain parts of the translation (nice compliment to you, which I was quite happy to accept).

The museum sponsors a journal dedicated to Mendel, titled Folia Mendeliana, in circulation since 1965 ( Jiri asked if we’d be willing to allow the journal to republish our translation, and, fortunately, I was able to unhesitatingly say “yes.” Anticipating such requests, I convinced the editors of Genetics to give the translation a creative commons license, allowing unrestricted republication without copyright prohibition. I’m pleased that Folia Mendeliana will be the first to do so.


Fantastic day today. It was the annual Mendel lecture with the unveiling of first artworks of what will be the complete exhibit opening in March. The ceremony today was to celebrate the 150th of the publication of Mendel’s paper, which was in the final quarterly issue of the journal in 1866, so published in October, November, or December, no one know exactly when. In any case, it makes the publication of our translation quite timely. The keynote speaker was Prof. Dr. Johann Vollmann of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. He told a wonderful story. During his presentation, after talking about Mendel’s time in Vienna, he shifted to describing a hike he took on a mountain a month ago with fabulous photos of ice formations where the wind had blown water onto rocks, trees, and other features in a horizontal direction. After showing several dazzling photos of these ice formations, he stated (and I paraphrase), “Now you may wonder why I am talking about ice formations in a talk about Mendel, so here is the connection. I had just read two fantastic papers, one on Darwin’s influence on Mendel and the other a new translation of Mendel’s paper. The weather was so perfect that I took the day off to hike this mountain to the summit. And the whole time up and down I was thinking through these papers in my mind.” He and I had dinner afterward with the museum officials and he was overflowing with compliments about the translation. It was quite an honor coming from a native Austrian plant geneticist.


See our work in the journal Genetics here

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Good Responses to Our Mendel Work

  1. alex caldiero says:

    This is wonderful, connective work. Knowledge has always fared best when science and letters (code word for humanities) collaborate. Good going to both of youse.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s