E. A. Martel, The Traveller Who Almost Become an Academian

Pierre-Olaf Schut

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3986/ac.v35i1.252

Abstract

Edouard-Alfred Martel lives in Paris. Like his father he studies to become a lawyer. This social position, fruit of the paternal heritage, does not fulfil his desire to become famous in the field of science, which he considers as the source of progress for mankind. He has a passion for travelling and, in the course of his journeys, finds a way to satisfy his ambitions, which run far beyond his Parisian legal practice. Almost by chance, he comes across what he would soon institutionalize as a new branch of natural science: speleology, that is to say the study of natural, underground caves. Will Martel, the ambitious traveller, manage to distinguish himself in the scientific world? The man’s biography, supported by an analysis of his writings and his correspondence, illustrates the career of a tourist who wished to be acknowledged as a scientist. Showing the anonymous member of the Club Alpin Français rising up to being candidate at the Academy of sciences, this biography illustrates the path of a self-made man right up to the highest spheres of science. It also demonstrates the distinction this illustrious man created between trips for tourist and explorations dedicated to scientific purposes.

 

 

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3986/ac.v35i1.252

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