[Maupertuis, P. L. M. de]
Venus Physique. Premiere partie. Contenant une dissertation sur l'origine des hommes et des animaux [AND] Seconde partie. Contenant une dissertation sur l'origine des Noirs.
(Paris? No publisher mentioned), 1746. Small 8vo (14.0 x 10.0 cm). Half-title, title page, 224 pp., with two additional half-titles. Original boards.
A complete copy of the second, expanded edition of this groundbreaking work on heredity, published anonymously in two parts, both preceded by a half-title. DSB: "Maupertuis's Venus Physique refuted the pre-formationist theories of embryonic development held by most of his contemporaries of the then-discredited epigenetic hypothesis, which Maupertuis had adopted after considering the obvious facts of biparental heredity". Maupertius' theories of biparental heredity and epigenesis substantially anticipated those of Darwin and Mendel. "Maupertuis attacked the 'preformation' theory, pointing out many contradictions to it by the simple process of reasoning from readily available observations. His speculations about evolution were not generally appreciated but his transformist theory is now considered an anticipation of the modern concept of mutation." (Garrison-Morton) In this remarkable observation Maupertuis may be said to have been a prophetic precursor of the recent exciting discoveries of the molecular structure of DNA by J. Watson and F. Crick a.o., who through the methods of physical chemistry unravelled the mystery of the basic structure of organic matter. The first edition, published the year before, had only 194 pages in 12mo. The British Library has a "cinquième édition" dated 1748. Further editions were published in 1751, 1765, and 1777. Uncut. Old, handwritten label on the spine, otherwise a very good, clean copy. DSB vol. IX, pp. 186-189; Garrison-Morton 215.1. See also Glass, Forerunners of Darwin 1745-1859, pp. 67-72: 'Maupertuis' Theory of Heredity and the origin of the Foetus."