A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos by Dava Sobel is part fiction part non-fiction book. The book includes a play in two acts in the middle.
- 288 pages
- Publisher: Walker & Company
- ISBN: 0802717934
My rating for A More Perfect Heaven – 4
A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos by Dava Sobel (website) is a very readable book about reclusive cleric Nicolaus Copernicus. The historical narrative and introduction (for me) to the Poland Copernicus lived in were very interesting.
I am fascinated by writings about these super-geniuses which have changed the world we live in, stood up to norms and the effects of their discoveries still affect our daily lives. Part of me knows that I will never understand their actual writings, most of it looks like Greek to me and, of course, some of it is in actual Greek.
“[T]he counter-revolution that sprang up in immediate reaction to Copernicus’s ideas also continues to make waves. State and local governments still claim the right to control what can be taught of scientific theories in classrooms and textbooks. A so-called museum in the south-eastern United States compresses the Earth’s geological record from 4.5 billion to a biblical few thousand years, and pretends that dinosaurs coexisted with human beings”.
Nicolaus Copernicus Portrait, 1580, Toruń Old Town City Hall – Wikipedia
The author was also having fun with this book, smack in the middle is a two-act play called And the Sun Stood Still which captures the interaction between Copernicus and hi student, the mathematician Johann Joachim Rheticus. Before the play the author writes about Copernicus’ life before meeting Rheticus; after the play the author writes about the decline on Copernicus after Rheticus has left.
When I started reading the play I thought of skipping it – I’m not much for plays – but Sobel’s writing managed to pull it off. The interaction between Copernicus and Rheticus, along with the historical background provided, actually added to the book even though the author said she wanted to publish the play alone. I think the author’s editor made a wise choice by including the historical background.
You won’t learn much about the science and mathematics of astrology in this book. However you will get a terrific image of the man we know as Copernicus, his struggle to develop his theory, his internal struggles with publishing his ideas against the norms and the church.
It is 1514 and Polish monk Nicolaus Copernicus has the initial outline for his heliocentric theory in which he defies the norms of society and church by placing the sun in the center of the universe. Copernicus’ book is long and detailed, yet unpublished.
A young German mathematician named Georg Joachim Rheticus comes to study under Copernicus hearing about his genius. Several years later the young man leaves his mentor and tries to arrange the manuscript to be published.
Zohar – Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from the local library.
Article first published as Book Review: A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos by Dava Sobel on Blogcritics.
- Dava Sobel’s curious new book on Copernicus (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- For Copernicus, A ‘Perfect Heaven’ Put Sun At Center (npr.org)
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