Gustáv Reuss

portrait of Gustav Reuss by Peter Michal Bohun

portrait by Peter Michal Bohúň

Gustáv Mauricíus Reuss (1818-61) was a physican, botanist, collector of fairytales and founder of Slovak science fiction. He was born in Revúca as one of three sons of the enlightened Lutheran priest Samuel Reuss, who corresponded with Johann Wolfgang Goethe and helped found the Revúca Lutheran Library, the first public library in Slovakia. After studying at universities in Pest and Vienna, Reuss practiced medicine in Revúca and Miskolc, while also pursuing his interest in botany. He collected over 4,000 plants, classifying some 2,000 and coining many botanical terms in Slovak in his Května Slovenska (The Flora of Slovakia), the first comprehensive Slovak book on botany, published in 1853. Under the influence of his father, Reuss and his brother Ľudovít collected legends and fairytales of the surrounding Gemer region. His fascination with astronomy as well as the fantastical elements in the legends inspired his groundbreaking work of fiction, The Science of the Stars, published in 1856. Suffering from ill health, Reuss died in 1861, aged only 43, probably of cholera. His exact burial place is not known and only a reproduction survives of Reuss’s sole existing likeness, a portrait by the well-known contemporary artist Peter Michal Bohúň (1822-1879).

Available in English

front cover of Gustav Reuss – The Science of the Stars

The Science of the Stars

translated by

David Short

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