What we owe to the self-taught genius Carl Linnaeus

Carl Linnaeus and Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon were both taxonomists, born in the same year (1707), but apart from that they had little in common and never met. Buffon was French, Linnaeus Swedish. Buffon was suave, elegant, tall and handsome (Voltaire said he had ‘the body of an athlete and the soul of a sage’), whereas Linnaeus was a bumptious little man (under 5ft), who was widely regarded as uncouth. Buffon’s funeral was attended by 20,000 mourners but Linnaeus died almost forgotten, after suffering from a brain disease for 15 years. Yet the Linnaean system of taxonomy has survived much better than Buffon’s, which was hardly a system at

Stockholm syndrome: The Family Clause, by Jonas Hassen Khemiri, reviewed

Some faint hearts may sink at the idea of a torrid Swedish family drama peopled with nameless figures identified only as ‘a grandfather who is a father’, ‘a sister who is a mother’, and so on. Stick around: this gets better. That grandfather, an immigrant trader who ‘could sell sand to a beach’ or ‘wind to a hurricane’, remembers his first taste of Swedish TV: a child- ren’s programme featured ‘two different coloured socks with sequins for eyes’ discussing ‘how vital class struggle was for a happy society’. Later, after the long-distance skating, came ‘a documentary about Latin American poets or Ukrainian beekeepers’. The granddad would meet his entrepreneurial mates