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Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love
Galileo's Daughter A Historical Memoir of Science Faith and Love Author:Dava Sobel Inspired by a long fascination with Galileo, and by the remarkable surviving letters of Galileo's daughter, a cloistered nun, Dava Sobel has written a biography unlike any other of the man Albert Einstein called "the father of modern physics- indeed of modern science altogether." Galileo's Daughter also presents a stunning portrait of a p... more »erson hitherto lost to history, described by her father as "a woman of exquisite mind, singular goodness, and most tenderly attached to me."
The son of a musician, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) tried at first to enter a monastery before engaging the skills that made him the foremost scientist of his day. Though he never left Italy, his inventions and discoveries were heralded around the world. Most sensationally, his telescopes allowed him to reveal a new reality in the heavens and to reinforce the astounding argument that the Earth moves around the Sun. For this belief, he was brought before the Holy Office of the Inquisition, accused of heresy, and forced to spend his last years under house arrest.
Of Galileo's three illegitimate children, the eldest best mirrored his own brilliance, industry, and sensibility, and by virtue of these qualities became his confidante. Born Virginia in 1600, she was thirteen when Galileo placed her in a convent near him in Florence, where she took the most appropriate name of Suor Maria Celeste. Her loving support, which Galileo repaid in kind, proved to be her father's greatest source of strength throughout his most productive and tumultuous years. Her presence, through letters which Sobel has translated from their original Italian and masterfully woven into the narrative, graces her father's life now as it did then.
Galileo's Daughter dramatically recolors the personality and accomplishment of a mythic figure whose seventeenth-century clash with Catholic doctrine continues to define the schism between science and religion. Moving between Galileo's grand public life and Maria Celeste's sequestered world, Sobel illuminates the Florence of the Medicis and the papal court in Rome during the pivotal era when humanity's perception of its place in the cosmos was about to be overturned. In that same time, while the bubonic plague wreaked its terrible devastation and the Thirty Years' War tipped fortunes across Europe, one man sought to reconcile the Heaven he revered as a good Catholic with the heavens he revealed through his telescope.
With all the human drama and scientific adventure that distinguished Dava Sobel's previous book Longitude,Galileo's Daughter is an unforgettable story.« less
I ordered _Galileo's Daughter_ on a whim. Wow. It was really, really good. The story is the story of the life of Galileo, and especially of his relationship with his older daughter, who is a nun with the convent name of Maria Celeste. The time period featured here is not one that I've ever been especially interested in. Nor did I know anything about Galileo, (beyond that Indigo Girls song and a conspiracy theory that someone told me when I was a teenager, that the Church actually knew already that the earth went around the sun, they just weren't ready for the public to know) or think that it was a lack in my life not to, but this book was riveting. Sobel did a great job of keeping you interested with the narrative and the letters from Maria Celeste to her father, without neglecting contextual information about the politics and church doctrine of the time. This book transformed my understanding of this period of Italian history. The idea of being arrested, tortured, or even executed for disagreeing with church doctrine is chilling. If you are interested in science, history, or the relationship between church and state, then order _Galileo's Daughter_ right away. Dava Sobel also wrote a similar book which I plan to investigate: _Longitude:The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time_. Five stars.
This book is a great combination of biography and memoir, and is told using a unique construction. The author has researched well the later life of Gallileo, and presents his story of experimentation, mathematics and presentation of Copernicus' earth-centric theory of the solar system and surrounding uproar in great detail, but interlaces those factual episodes with one half of a set of correspondence. She uses the surviving letters of his daughter to him during the latter half of his life to add to the dry facts the daily routine of his life and his concerns on more mundane things. Truly a unique combination of factual history and daily life.
I read this book after viewing a PBS special about Galileo, his troubles with the church, and his daughter. I knew his daughter was a nun and to support your father when your own "boss" is against him was mighty brave. I enjoyed this book. Very in-depth or what others might call tedious. Good read.