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The Age of Wonder - How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (Paperback, Epub Edition) Loot Price: R273
Discovery Miles 2 730
You Save: R100 (27%)

The Age of Wonder - How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (Paperback, Epub Edition)

Richard Holmes

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List price R373 Loot Price R273 Discovery Miles 2 730 You Save R100 (27%)

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Energetic analysis of the "Romantic Age of Science."Romanticism, the deeply emotional artistic movement of the second half of the 18th century, was partly a reaction against the pragmatism of Enlightenment scientists. However, British historian Holmes (Sidetracks: Explorations of a Romantic Biographer, 2000, etc.) writes, the divide between scientific endeavors and artistic pursuits was not always so clearly delineated. The author focuses primarily on the lives of two men who straddled both worlds, who embraced "Romantic science" and pursued it with the passion of poets or painters. Astronomer William Herschel, who discovered the planet Uranus in 1781, started his career as a musician. That led to an interest in mathematics and then astronomy, which he pursued with the same emotional fervor as any classical music piece. He even compared his skill at seeing astronomical phenomena with the skill required to play Handel's fugues. Holmes also looks at the British chemist Humphry Davy, who, among other accomplishments, discovered that chlorine and iodine were elements. Early on, Davy wrote poetry, and later became friends with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. One of his poems celebrated "science, whose delicious water flows / From Nature's bosom." Davy's enthusiasm led to risky, self-destructive behavior - he often inhaled strange chemical gases as experiments, a practice that nearly killed him. While partaking of nitrous oxide with acquaintances, he extolled the glories of science: "I dream of Science restoring to Nature what Luxury, what Civilization have stolen from her - pure hearts, the forms of angels, bosoms beautiful, and panting with Joy & Hope." Davy may have had a brilliant scientist's brain, but he had the heart and soul of a poet. How these two contradictory ideas not only coexisted, but flourished together during the Romantic era, makes for engrossing reading.Enjoyable excavation of a time when science and art fed off each other, to the benefit of both communities. (Kirkus Reviews)
Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science Books, Richard Holmes's dazzling portrait of the age of great scientific discovery is a groundbreaking achievement. The book opens with Joseph Banks, botanist on Captain Cook's first Endeavour voyage, who stepped onto a Tahitian beach in 1769 fully expecting to have located Paradise. Back in Britain, the same Romantic revolution that had inspired Banks was spurring other great thinkers on to their own voyages of artistic and scientific discovery - astronomical, chemical, poetical, philosophical - that together made up the `age of wonder'. In this breathtaking group biography, Richard Holmes tells the stories of the period's celebrated innovators and their great scientific discoveries: from telescopic sight to the miner's lamp, and from the first balloon flight to African exploration.


Imprint: Harperpress
Country of origin: United Kingdom
Release date: September 2009
Authors: Richard Holmes
Dimensions: 198 x 130 x 39mm (L x W x T)
Format: Paperback - B-format
Pages: 554
Edition: Epub Edition
ISBN-13: 978-0-00-714953-7
Categories: Books > Language & Literature > Biography & autobiography > Science, technology & engineering
Books > Science & Mathematics > Science: general issues > Impact of science & technology on society
Books > Biography > Science, technology & engineering
LSN: 0-00-714953-0
Barcode: 9780007149537

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