The Metamorphosis of Plants, published in 1790, was Goethe's first major attempt to describe what he called in a letter to a friend “the truth about the how of the organism.” Inspired by the diversity of flora he found on a journey to Italy, Goethe sought a unity of form in diverse structures. He came to see in the leaf the germ of a plant's metamorphosis―“the true Proteus who can hide or reveal himself in all vegetal forms”―from the root and stem leaves to the calyx and corolla, to pistil and stamens.
The Metamorphosis of Plants
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