Timothy; Or, Notes of an Abject Reptile

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The book cover, as found on the internet

In 1789 Gilbert White, a prominent yet largely forgotten British naturalist, wrote “The Natural History of Selborne”. He wrote notes about everything around him including his tortoise, Timothy, who was later discovered to be a female. About three centuries later, Verlyn Klinkenborg, a North American author and newspaper editor, snuck into Timothy’s psyche and produced a gorgeous, scientifically correct train of thought stemming from the tortoise’s unique point of view.

“How these humans dispose themselves! Unlike anything else in creation. Or rather like everything else in creation all at once. Legs of one beast. Arms of another. Proportions all awry to a tortoise’s eye. Torso too squat. Too little neck. Vastly too much leg. Hands like creatures unto themselves. Senses delicately balanced. And yet each sense dulled by mental acuity. Reason in place of a good nose. Logic instead of a tail. Faith instead of the certain knowledge of instinct. Superstition instead of a shell.”

Timothy’s observations on the human world, a mirror image of White’s observations of the natural world, are filled with insights and interlaced with a dry humour, perfect for such a reptile. A must read for anyone with a love for tortoises, terrapins or turtles or simply for anyone who has an open mind and strong sensitivity.

One of my Testudo hermanni

Nel 1789 Gilbert White, un naturalista illustre ma prevalentemente dimenticato dagli scienziati contemporanei, scrisse “The Natural History of Selborne”. Descrisse il mondo della sua piccola tasca dell’Inghilterra del Sud, includendo osservazioni sulla sua testuggine, Timothy, che più tardi si scoprì fosse femmina. Circa tre secolo dopo, Verlyn Klinkenborg, un autore ed editore Nord Americano, si intrufolò nella psiche di Timothy e produsse un magnifico libro delle osservazioni di questa testuggine sul mondo umano, uno specchio delle osservazioni di White sulla natura. Un punto di vista unico e particolare, intessuto di un particolare umorismo secco, perfetto per questo rettile. È impossibile da mettere giù.

“How these humans dispose themselves! Unlike anything else in creation. Or rather like everything else in creation all at once. Legs of one beast. Arms of another. Proportions all awry to a tortoise’s eye. Torso too squat. Too little neck. Vastly too much leg. Hands like creatures unto themselves. Senses delicately balanced. And yet each sense dulled by mental acuity. Reason in place of a good nose. Logic instead of a tail. Faith instead of the certain knowledge of instinct. Superstition instead of a shell.”

Gli appassionati di testuggini, tartarughe ed altri rettili troveranno irresistibile la lettura, piena di spunti ed intuizioni e degna di un pubblico scientifico.

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