Midas Dekkers

De Larf

Over kinderen en metamorfose

Life on Earth is mainly immature

Writer-biologist Midas Dekkers has a great passion: the deeply rooted similarity between humans and animals. His style is ironic and at times simply sarcastic, but attests consistently to a warm love for nature and the animal-in-man. With pointed questions and sometimes disconcerting comparisons Dekkers succeeds in holding the attention of his readers like few others. In The Larva Dekkers addresses the subject of youth.

He parades every possible organism before us, from flies and dragonflies to eels, from salamanders and frogs to, of course, humans as well. The Larva shows that those who find the subject of youth unspectacular are sorely mistaken; the biodiversity on Earth consists primarily of organisms that have not reached adulthood: life on Earth is mainly immature.

Even nature lovers and those in the biological sciences pay little attention to this remarkable fact, and in daily life, immature organisms like larvae, caterpillars and maggots are regarded as annoying or harmful fellow creatures. We admire butterflies for their splendid colors, but we fight their larvae – the caterpillars – with all the means at our disposal. Dekkers confronts us with many such inconsistencies in our attitude towards nature.

Wherever we look – in a drop of seawater, in a ditch, in the vegetable garden or in a tropical rain forest – we encounter immature life forms everywhere, and everywhere growth and development is the feature of life that is the most striking. The growth towards adulthood occurs mainly by way of intermediate forms – larval stages. According to Dekkers we are guilty of a major error if we consider these larvae incomplete or inferior versions of the adult forms: every larval form is perfectly adapted to its specific situation and outstandingly equipped for the struggle for life.

In actuality each individual stage in the growth process can be regarded as a fully-fledged organism in its own right. This also applies to our own species, human beings. Children far outnumber adults, although the adult minority maintains a firm grasp on its power. The human larva – baby, toddler, adolescent – is fundamentally different from the adult, not only in its anatomy and physiology, but also in its behavior and mental capabilities. In their ability to learn new information, children’s brains are dramatically superior to those of adults. In short, the true predecessor of (adult) man is, more than any protohuman, the child.

The press on The Way of All Flesh:
A mischievous rhapsody about death and decay.

The Independent

Dekkers’s cheerily cultured broadside against the modern youth cult harnesses a lugubrious humour to wide-ranging readings in history and biology.

The Guardian

Dekkers’ anarchic tongue-in-cheek humour is hilarious.


A furious book, a witty book, a fierce book, full of provocation and sarcasm.

Die Woche


Midas Dekkers

Midas Dekkers is a bestselling author and biologist. Pieces on hundreds of animals were brought together in his All Animals (2010) and he has met with great acclaim, both at home and abroad, for the wonderful illustrated bestsellers Dearest Pet (1992), The Way of All Flesh (1997), The Larva (2002)…

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De Larf. Over kinderen en metamorfose (2002). Non-fictie, 288 pagina's.
Oplage: 35.000

With illustrations and references



Keizersgracht 205
NL - 1016 DS Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 535 25 35
Fax: +31 20 535 25 49

[email protected]

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