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The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science

By: Richard Holmes

576 pages, illustrations

Vintage

Paperback | Mar 2010 | #194235 | ISBN-13: 9781400031870
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £11.30 $14/€13 approx
Hardback | Jul 2009 | #194234 | ISBN-13: 9780375422225
Availability: Usually dispatched within 2-3 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £28.50 $36/€34 approx

About this book

In this book, Richard Holmes tells the colorful and utterly absorbing history of the men and women whose discoveries and inventions at the end of the eighteenth century gave birth to the Romantic Age of Science.

When young Joseph Banks stepped onto a Tahitian beach in 1769, he hoped to discover Paradise. Inspired by the scientific ferment sweeping through Britain, the botanist had sailed with Captain Cook in search of new worlds. Other voyages of discovery--astronomical, chemical, poetical, philosophical--swiftly follow in Richard Holmes's thrilling evocation of the second scientific revolution. Through the lives of William Herschel and his sister Caroline, who forever changed the public conception of the solar system; of Humphry Davy, whose near-suicidal gas experiments revolutionized chemistry; and of the great Romantic writers, from Mary Shelley to Coleridge and Keats, who were inspired by the scientific breakthroughs of their day, Holmes brings to life the era in which we first realized both the awe-inspiring and the frightening possibilities of science-an era whose consequences are with us still.

I am a Richard Holmes addict. He is an incomparable biographer, but in The Age of Wonder", he rises to new heights and becomes the biographer not of a single figure, but of an entire unique period, when artist and scientist could share common aims and ambitions and a common language--and together create a "romantic," humanist science. We are once again on the brink of such an age, when science and art will come together in new and powerful ways. For this we could have no better model than the lives of William and Caroline Herschel and Humphry Davy, whose dedication and scientific inventiveness were combined with a deep sense of wonder and poetry in the universe. Only Holmes, who is so deeply versed in the people and culture of eighteenth-century science, could tell their story with such verve and resonance for our own time."
- Oliver Sacks, author of "Musicophilia", "Awakenings", and "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat"


Contents

List of illustrations
Prologue

1 Joseph Banks in Paradise
2 Herschel on the Moon
3 Balloonists in Heaven
4 Herschel Among the Stars
5 Mungo Park in Africa
6 Davy on the Gas
7 Dr Frankenstein and the Soul
8 Davy and the Lamp
9 Sorcerer and Apprentice
10 Young Scientists

Epilogue
Cast List
Bibliography
References
Acknowledgements
Index

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