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Kepler by John Banville

Kepler (1981)

by John Banville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Revolutions Trilogy (2)

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389541,178 (3.6)19



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Showing 5 of 5
What I can say? It was my first Banville book and it won't be the last. We experience Kepler's Angst... ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
Johannes Kepler wants to unite the heavens in a glorious mathematical and astronomical harmony, and he has the genius to do that very thing. Everything else about his life is out of tune, from his own abrasive personality to his marriage and his religion as well as his reliance on wealth patrons to fund his scientific endeavours and with whom he is always at odds or out of step.

I think Bannville's books are less about either the explicated sciences or the accurate biographies of these men, but about the hidden inner lives as the grapple with the huge questions of the universe and discover that they can gain knowledge but not meaning or understanding, and they are forced to question the worth of this undertaking when set against the banal vicissitudes of life and the looming certainty of death. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
I may have to read this a second time. ( )
  KalliopeMuse | Apr 2, 2013 |
When I think about the great scientific minds of the distant past, I always imagine them constantly occupied with their lofty pursuits and all their needs somehow provided. Banville puts the reader right inside Kepler's mind which is so often caught up in the petty details of life, his unhappy marriage, deaths of his children, the constant search for a patron and money. But then occasionally you get a glimpse of his genius which leads him to look again at what was known about geometry and astronomy at the time. His Kepler sees the physical world and the people around him as alien and usually hostile. When he stops to take a look around, he is always an observer, never a participant. He lacks the most basic social skills. Yet there are those who see his genius and give him the time to do his work. Banville is an amazing writer and gives a good sense of life at the turn of the seventeenth century. ( )
  Oregonreader | Jan 10, 2011 |
Living in the Renaissance, a person of intelligence must have been perpetually anxious, annoyed, or exasperated, except for occasional moments of intellectual triumph and the times when love lightened one's emotional landscape and infinitely complicated it. At least, that was the experience of Johannes Kepler as imagined in John Banville's emotionally convincing novel.

Banville's prose is exhuberantly multisyllabic and conveys the sense of disdainful sarcasm mingled with ambition and obsessive accuracy in observing the world around him that he attributes to Kepler. In the fever of creation, however, Banville can be insensitive to his readers. For example, he creates unnecessary confusion by referring to a character variously by his first name, last name, position, or nationality during the course of a few paragraphs, leaving us struggling to keep track of who it is that he's talking about.

Part IV consists of letters written by the Kepler character, presented out of chronological order. This is less confusing than it sounds, but it left me wondering why these presumably fictional letters couldn't have been constructed in a way that supported Banville's thematic needs while preserving a more natural narrative flow. Kepler struggled all his life to reconcile his religious belief that the order of the physical universe reflected the divine order of the Christian god with his common sense conviction that the universe was indeed physical and conformed to the proven laws of physics. Is Banville trying to tell us that Kepler was so wrong in this that even the story of his own life could not be properly told without upsetting the natural flow of time?
1 vote margad | Jul 26, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Banvilleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Marsh, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Johannes Kepler, born in 1571 in south Germany, was one of the world's greatest mathematicians and astronomers. In this acclaimed novel, John Banville has evoked the brilliant, beautiful and cruel world which was Kepler's.

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