Users of Google Scholar will be familiar with the phrase ‘Stand on the shoulders of giants.’ Georges-Louis LeClerc, le comte de Buffon, was one of these, but although copies of his works appear frequently in Antiquarian and second-hand book sales, because they were written in French his ideas have been less well known. Jan Zalasiewicz Anne-Sophie Milon and Mateusz Zalasiewicz set out to redress this imbalance and to draw attention to Buffon's wide ranging contributions to geological thought. The translation seems excellent, preserving both the original, albeit repetitive precision, and what we would now regard as the ‘mannered’ language of the day. Few items jarred: the use of ‘vitrescible’ and ‘monuments’ in particular. It was necessary to look up the former but it seems to mean any mineral matter that forms glass when sufficiently heated. At times this is justified but we now take it for granted that most sand will consist of just such material and in this it seems redundant; confusing what would otherwise be clear statements. The use of ‘Monuments’ seems just too literal a translation. There are very few typographical errors and the book is well produced.
Book Review|September 12, 2018