HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Doctor Mirabilis by James Blish
Loading...
MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
167371,264 (3.55)6
None
  1. 00
    The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (jpers36)
    jpers36: Life story of a genius physicist destined to revolutionize a stagnant culture with his radical scientific insights.
  2. 00
    The First Scientist: A Life of Roger Bacon by Brian Clegg (bertilak)
  3. 00
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (bertilak)
    bertilak: Both books have subplots about the controversial teachings of Joachim of Fiore.
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 6 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
A rather dull retelling of the life of Roger Bacon, there's not as much about clergy politics as I would've liked. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 19, 2014 |
Although first issued and mostly reprinted under science fiction imprints, Blish's Doctor Mirabilis is a quite conscientiously historical piece of fiction set in the thirteenth century. Although it's written in modern English, there are enough Middle Englishisms in it that it might seem like a chore to those who have no prior familiarity with the language of the period, and there are a few short passages of untranslated Latin. It was a fast, enjoyable read for me, but I can't second-guess how it might read to someone who hadn't formally studied medieval history. The book stands as part of an alleged "trilogy" (with one of the three parts most often published as two volumes) joined only by theme, rather than plot, character, or even style. This one is probably the strongest, though least-read, book of the set.

The chapters are episodic, and the plot has the nature of a biography, covering the whole of Roger Bacon's adult life. Other characters are filled out credibly, particularly Adam Marsh, but it's mostly just Roger's story. Many 21st-century magicians might be satisfied to read only the chapter about Roger's alchemical investigations in Paris, if they want to maximize entertainment for time spent.

Blish's picture of his central character is decidedly that of a scientist--not an inventor/technologist, but a researcher trying to understand the world, and to empirically verify or disprove the ideas about it that have been supplied to him in the hard-to-obtain "commmon" knowledge of his medieval university world. Even without the mass of clinical notions developed since the writing of this book in the 1960s, Blish also effectively presents Roger as a very high-functioning inhabitant of the "autism spectrum." He's passionate about knowledge, good with words and numbers, and terrible with people. The upshot of this condition is something nobler than an idot-savant: a tragic hero.

My previous reading on Roger Bacon had never suggested any connection to the Spiritual Franciscans and Joachimism, but Blish is certainly within his rights to imagine one, inasmuch as the conflict within the Ordo Fratrum Minorum could not have been invisible to Roger. The attraction of apocalyptic thinking for pioneering English men of science is well attested in such other cases as John Dee and Isaac Newton, and Blish doesn't go so far as to make Roger into a Fraticello, but simply one who staunchly credits the possible validity of Joachimist prophecy.

Another feature of Blish's Roger Bacon is his lifelong dialog with his personal genius, or "demonic self." This aspect, along with the attention to historical context and the emphasis on the spiritual value of knowledge about the world, makes the book an admirable piece of creative hagiography, especially for adherents of the Gnostic Catholic Church whose canon of saints includes the Doctor Mirabilis.
5 vote paradoxosalpha | Dec 18, 2013 |
A novel about the life and work of Roger Bacon, strange and brilliant thinker of the 13th century, a fore-runner of modern science. Interesting read. ( )
  tripleblessings | Nov 24, 2005 |
Showing 3 of 3
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For Virginia
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
23 wanted

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.55)
0.5
1
1.5
2 2
2.5
3 8
3.5
4 8
4.5 1
5 2

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 91,655,851 books! | Top bar: Always visible