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Lionni, Leo

Entry updated 12 August 2018. Tagged: Author.

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(1910-1999) Dutch-born artist and author, principally of self-illustrated children's fiction, who was resident in the USA 1939-1960 and subsequently in Italy. His quasi-sf book is Parallel Botany (1976; trans 1977), a work of mock popular science describing and illustrating an imaginary kingdom of "parallel" plants which supposedly exist on Earth but have been largely overlooked by Biology owing to various fantastic properties – such as Invisibility and disconnection from Time – that make specimens difficult to collect for study. The elaborate pseudo-taxonomy includes conceits in the manner of Jorge Luis Borges, such as the species whose image becomes disturbingly implanted in observers' memories like the eponym of Borges's "The Zahir" (in El Aleph, coll 1949, as "El Zahir"), a visual Meme. One plant-derived Drug induces a "hallucination" of bilocation – being in two places at once – which is both visible and tangible to others. The book's overall effect is of gentle Satire on scientific limitations. [DRL]

Leonard Lionni

born Amsterdam, Netherlands: 5 May 1910

died Sienna, Tuscany, Italy: 12 October 1999

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