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Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden von Gregor Mendel.

Experiments on Plant Hybrids, by Gregor Mendel.

Experiments = Versuche See p. 3, s. 6.

on = über The preposition über means “on” in the sense of “about”, or “on the topic of”, rather than “performed on”. Bateson has “Experiments in Plant Hybridisation”, while Sherwood has “Experiments on Plant Hybrids”. We follow the latter translation rather than choosing the more accurate translation “Experiments about Plant Hybrids”. The exact meaning matters since Mendel’s wording indicates that he thought of hybrids as a special subject.

Gregor Mendel Gregor Mendel (1822–1884) was the son of Anton Mendel (1789–1857), a peasant, and his wife Rosine Mendel, née Schwirtlich (1794–1862), a gardener's daughter. The family had a smallholding in Hynčice (German: Heinzingen) in northeastern Moravia, today in the Czech Republic. The name Mendel can be traced back to sixteenth-century fugitives from Württemberg, and the family probably considered themselves ethnically German; genealogical research in the early twentieth century revealed, however, that one quarter of their ancestors were Czech. Mendel’s first name at birth was Johann, he signs here with the religious name Gregor that he adopted when joining the Augustinian order in 1843 (on Mendel’s family background and early life, see Vítězslav Orel, Gregor Mendel: The First Geneticist, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996, pp. 36–44 and Jan Klein and Norman Klein, Solitude of a Humble Genius - Gregor Johann Mendel, Vol. 1: Formative Years, Berlin: Springer, 2013). The list of contents of the journal in which “Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden” appeared also has entries for the Sitzungsberichte (“session reports”) from the two meetings of the association, held on February 8 and March 8, 1865, at which Mendel presented his paper, and in these entries his last name is misspelled Mendl (Verhandlungen des Naturforschenden Vereines zu Brünn, Bd. IV [1865], Brünn: Im Verlage des Vereins, 1866, p. iii). Hugo Iltis, Mendel’s first biographer, cites and rejects unspecified contemporary speculations that the family name was actually of Jewish origin (Gregor Johann Mendel: Leben, Werk und Wirkung, Berlin - Heidelberg: Spinger Verlag, 1924, p. 4).

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