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By Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Translated and edited by Pedro Pasik and Tauba Pasik (Pp 667, US$150.00). Published by Springer Verlag, Wien, 2000. ISBN 3-211-83201-7
This is the second of three projected volumes that present for the first time in English one of the great classics of microscopical anatomy: Santiago Ramón y Cajal's Texture of the nervous system, which first appeared in Spanish in 1904. The Texture and Sherrington's integrative action of the nervous system, which appeared in 1906, are the two fundamental works from which modern neurological science grew. Hitherto, the Texture was available only in the original Spanish and in the somewhat enlarged French edition of 1911, reprinted in 1952.
This new edition is important, not only because it makes Ramón y Cajal's contribution widely accessible, but also because the translators have gone back to the original illustrations, which are preserved in the Museum of the Instituto Cajal in Madrid. The high quality of the paper compared with that of earlier editions means that much detail is now visible that was formerly obscure. This is well shown by comparing the section of the medulla and cerebellum in figure 238 in the present volume with figure 78 in volume II of the French edition: the beautiful cellular detail is simply not visible in the latter.
Modern investigators are further in the debt of the translators for having provided (and almost always checked) the full references cited by Cajal, correcting errors that had escaped his attention, and annotating the text sparingly but helpfully when modern research had clarified issues that remained unclear to him. The book is beautifully produced and pleasant to hold in the hand.
Ramón y Cajal's work is as central to neurological research today as it was century ago. The translators and publishers deserve our gratitude for bringing this essential work to a new generation of readers.