Friday, November 1, 2019

Undersea Miscellany - Microscopic Fairies, Undersea Lilliputians, Delicate Invertebrates, Plates of Jellyfish

Under Victorian Microscopes, an Enchanted World
Olivia Campbell

"As they became more powerful and more affordable, microscopy became an increasingly popular hobby. Gazing through these “magic glasses” rendered previously unseen worlds, which teemed with tiny living creatures, newly visible. When it came time to describe what they were seeing, people frequently turned to the language of the fantastical."

"Naturalists and lay users readily used a vocabulary drawn from fairy literature to… convey the incomprehensible strangeness and minutiae of the microscopic world. Though the link may seem incongruous, a surprisingly substantial body of Victorian scientific literature and fairy stories connect microscopes to fairies."

Lilliput Under the Sea
Tim Flannery
New York Review of Books

"Varying from foot-long mollusks to speck-sized shrimps, invertebrates like those depicted are the largely silent majority of species on Earth. Yet by virtue of size, camouflage, or hard-to-access environments, they are all too often unobserved. To enter their world through this book is to dwell, albeit briefly, in a Lilliputian realm far more mysterious, breathtakingly beautiful, and mystifying than our own."
The Delicate Science-Art of the Blaschka Invertebrate Collection

"The nineteenth century saw an explosion of interest in the exploration of the natural world, resulting in growing numbers of zoological and natural history societies, which often established museums to garner more popular interest and support. Expeditions that investigated ‘new frontiers’ - rugged tropical rainforests, the fossil record, the ocean depths - proved particularly sensational, and the findings they gathered were often put on museum display."
A Plate of Jellyfish
Lucy Jakub
New York Review of Books

"Haeckel believed that evolution would unite science with art and philosophy under one discipline, through which humans could reach a greater understanding of their world. His intention was to make the natural forms of elusive organisms accessible to artists, and supply them with a new visual vocabulary of protists, mollusks, trilobites, siphonophores, fungi, and echinoderms. Opening Art Forms is like stepping into a cathedral, a place crafted by human hands that nonetheless inspires awe of the divine. Within are jellyfish that look like flowers, protists that resemble Fabergé eggs, presented like crown jewels on black velvet, the seeming cosmic vastness of the images belying their actual, microscopic size."


  1. This is a great setting idea for a subatomic world.

    1. Thank you! That's probably why they caught my eye!