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 (http://www.mzm.cz/en/folia-mendeliana). 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