Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Soul Of The White Ant” as Want to Read:
The Soul Of The White Ant
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Soul Of The White Ant

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  177 ratings  ·  21 reviews
THE SOUL OF THE WHITE ANT by Eugène Marais is a passionate, insightful account into the world of termites. It is a meticulously researched expose of their complex, highly structured community life. Originally translated into English in 1937, the quality of research remains as relevant today as it was when it was first published. This illuminating account will not only appe ...more
Published September 24th 1970 (first published 1925)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Soul Of The White Ant, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Soul Of The White Ant

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  177 ratings  ·  21 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Soul Of The White Ant
Ned Rifle
Dec 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Just found out, you can get this book in its entirety online

This is a wonderful book on termites, though I have yet to compare it with other books on termites. Marais clearly has a love for these creatures (or creature, as we shall talk about) and describes their behaviour diligently and with humour from the first flight of the queen and king to the soldiers. The major contention of this work is that a termitary is essentially a single organism compos
Mish Middelmann
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
First published in 1925, this book is an extraordinary mix of careful scientific observation, brave and insightful hypothesis, and polemical rave. Eugene Marais was himself an extraordinary man who spent many years in the early 1900s combining professional work as a advocate with painstaking observation of animal behaviour including termites, baboons and snakes. He was also addicted to morphine for most of his life. Growing up in South Africa I've known about his writing for a long time but only ...more
Jul 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
I have never been a fan of sciene or biology books but on a recent trip to africa a friend recommended i pick this one up. It's very well known in africa but has received almost no attention here. Eugene Marais devoted his life to studying termites on the African plains and was one of the first to classify the entire termite mound as one single organism. Because he wrote in Afrikaans his work was not widely known and eventually a Belgian author republished Marais' findings as his own -- eventual ...more
Janessa Lantz
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book reaffirms a preexisting belief that I have - if you invest enough time into something, it becomes rich with meaning. It's almost inevitable. Eugene Marais spent 10 years studying termites. His research is thorough and thoughtful, possessing a deep respect for this insect. His enchantment with the termitary is so complete that you can't help but be infected by his writing.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves their work with abandon, or has an insatiable curiosity about the wo
Jerry Pogan
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and very enjoyable read about termites. Written almost one hundred years ago by Eugene Marais the book discusses his meticulous observations of the termites of South Africa and the conclusions he drew from them. Some of his conclusions are dated and a few are naive but most are very relevant even today. His observation that the termite colony works very much like an individual organism I thought was very interesting. His writing was extremely accessible unlike many scientific journ ...more
Jim Agustin
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I got this book from the local library just by chance while browsing for something else altogether. What luck, for this opened up a whole new perspective for me regarding the lives of termites. Hmmm, that sounded a bit odd. A proper review is what this book deserves. For now I will say this is an amazing book, with exceptional quality of writing. I'm going to look for his other books now. And if I find any of them in the shops, I will just grab without thinking. This might be the one push for me ...more
Aug 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best book I ever read about termites, hands down! Naturalist Eugene Marais's study of the termite offers fascinating insights into their world, and life itself. I'll never look at a termite's nest again the same way.
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed reading the book written by a naturalist. His writing style and the content of the book is engaging and fascinating. The author compares the colony of termites as a human body and describes the functions of the termites with respect to the functions in our own body. The meticulous and cumbersome studies that performed with termites for several years is worthy of enormous respect. Not only he talks about termites in this book but also ants, scorpions, apes and others animals to focus our ...more
Ronald J.
I read this book on the recommendation of Rabbi Daniel Lapin, from a discussion of it on his podcast. I have no interest in insects, let alone termites (except to kill them before they eat my house), but this book was very interesting nonetheless. The way the Queen acts as the brain of the termitary is quite fascinating, not to mention how they construct it. He discusses the "group psyche or soul," which is interesting. Even though we are a culture based on individualism, we are still interconne ...more
Diane Shearer
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A poet writes a scientific book. Extraordinary.

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a friend who grew up in South Africa. It’s fascinating, beautiful, and informative. This genre is not my style, nor is the subject interesting to me, yet I’m so glad I read it. Enjoy.
Nico Swanepoel
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
WOW! very very very interesting. After a trip to Africa a friend reccomended to read the book. I am not a biologist and have never paid much interest in this field, but it was truly fascinating. Good Good book, RIP to a very clever, passionate man!
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Written quite obviously in a different time but rather entertaining and interesting.
Angus Steele
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Written so long ago there is some outdated information, but nevertheless found this book extraordinary and thought provoking.
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
A bit dated but in some ways that is what makes it an interesting read. Lots of interesting information (it'd be good if someone could recommend a modern popular book about termites - did I really just say that!) about termites but also a window into the mind of someone pushing the boundaries of his field in the days prior to the development of genetics (and epigenetics more recently). I'm not sure how his central hypothesis of the termitary acting as a composite being has stood the test of time ...more
Jun 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: natural-history
How we humans underestimate the intelligence of creatures so radically different from ourselves as ants appear to be! Yet there are parallels because ants too are social creatures. Looked at with true objectivity, are we really 'God's chosen'? Reading this book encourages as many questions as it answers.
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Especially when you consider the time in which his research was conducted.

The insight, creativity and ingenuity of his experiments are second to none.
All naturalists can look up to this man and his feel for field work.
Dawid Malan
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Some very interesting facts and ideas in here
Sean de la Rosa
Surprisingly good read. Amazing facts about termites.
Kobe Bryant
Feb 21, 2013 rated it liked it
He wasn't even a real scientist, just some guy who spent years messing around with termites.
rated it it was ok
Apr 29, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Jul 30, 2018
rated it really liked it
May 20, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Apr 13, 2020
Matthew Taylor
rated it it was amazing
Nov 05, 2014
rated it it was amazing
May 21, 2015
rated it it was amazing
Jan 03, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Jul 23, 2011
rated it it was amazing
Jul 12, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Aug 02, 2017
Kate Blumberg
rated it it was amazing
Mar 19, 2019
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Little Book of String Theory
  • Serotonin
  • Sporting Blood: Tales from the Dark Side of Boxing
  • When Dreams Come True: A Love Story Only God Could Write
  • Patterns of Culture
  • The Lessons of History
  • Effi Briest
  • Doctor Faustus
  • Crystal Horizon: Everest: The First Solo Ascent
  • Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made
  • Minus 148 Degrees
  • Coach to Coach: An Empowering Story about How to Be a Great Leader
  • The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See
  • Honky Tonk Hero
  • The Tree of Man
  • Caesar and Cleopatra
  • The Water Babies
  • Nothing Ever Happens On My Block
See similar books…
Marais ('mah-REH', silent s) was the thirteenth and last child of his parents, Jan Christiaan Nielen Marais and Catharina. He attended school in Pretoria, Boshof and Paarl and much of his early education was in English, as were his earliest poems.

After leaving school he worked as a legal clerk and later as a journalist before becoming owner (at the age of twenty) of a newspaper called Land en Vol

News & Interviews

Ashley Poston made her name with Once Upon a Con, a contemporary series set in the world of fandom, and her two-part space opera, Heart of...
38 likes · 6 comments