Arno Karlen

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Arno Karlen (May 7, 1937 – May 13, 2010[1]) was an American poet, psychoanalyst, and in particular, popular science writer.[2] He won the 1996 Rhone-Poulenc Prize for science books with Plague's Progress, but was unable to attend the award ceremony due to illness.[3]

His works have included:

  • Sexuality and Homosexuality (1972)[4]
  • Huneker and Other Lost Arts. [5]
  • The MacGregor Syndrome and Other Literary Losses [6]
  • Napoleon’s Glands and Other Ventures in Biohistory (1984)
  • UK: Plague's Progress: A Social History Of Man And Disease;[7] US: Man and microbes: disease and plagues in history and modern times (1996)
  • The Biography Of A Germ (2000)

The Biography Of A Germ[edit]

Karlen's book tracks the friends, foes and ancestors of Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), a "silvery, wriggling corkscrew-like" bacterium which causes Lyme disease. Asides include the naming of living things and the history of germ theory.[8] Bb is named after Willy Burgdorfer who isolated the cause of an illness affecting residents of Lyme, Connecticut.[9]


  1. ^ Obituary: Arno Karlen
  2. ^ The Daily Telegraph, Science prize, 16 May 1996
  3. ^ The Observer Pendennis: The Observer diary, 26 May 1996
  4. ^ Display Ad, The Guardian, 23 Mar 1972
  5. ^ Antioch Review (Autumn 1981) Vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 402-421. Available on JSTOR (
  6. ^ Allen, Bruce. Reviewer's choice: the five best magazines, The Christian Science Monitor, 12 August 1983
  7. ^ Porter, Roy, Books: Bugs and drugs. The Guardian, 27 August 1995
  8. ^ Mulvihill, Mary, Biography of a Germ by Arno Karlen. Irish Times, 18 May 2002
  9. ^ Lezard, Nicholas. Saturday review: books: Pick of the week: A bug's life, The Guardian, 6 October 2001