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Galileo's Daughter: A Drama of Science, Faith and Love (original 1999; edition 2009)

by Dava Sobel

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4,370831,127 (3.66)190
Member:qatsi
Title:Galileo's Daughter: A Drama of Science, Faith and Love
Authors:Dava Sobel
Info:Fourth Estate (2009), Edition: (Reissue), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Read
Rating:*****
Tags:history, science, biography

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Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel (1999)

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A fascinating exploration of not only Galileo's struggles to publish and make known his agreement - with theoretical and mathematical evidence - that Copernicus was correct in his belief that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around, and how the Church was determined that Copernicus was wrong as it countered what was spelled out in the Scriptures. Anyone who stayed awake during history and science classes while in school will know a fair bit about Galileo, his writings and his battles with the Catholic church, but I will admit to having no knowledge of his family life before reading Sobel's book. Being able to read the text of his daughter Suor Maria Celeste's letters and the context Sobel provides them in really helped to bring not only Galileo, but also the time period into clear resolution for me. The paternal love and respect Galileo had for his daughter and her intellect, and her unwavering devotion to her father, shines here. Some memoirs come across as rather dry reading for me, because I am usually not interested in the minutia of famous or historical figures. Being able to read about Galileo through his daughter's letters to him was anything but boring, even when she talks about the minutia of her cloistered life. That was very interesting!

Overall, a different approach to a memoir that I felt really works well and presents the details of Galileo's thoughts, beliefs and struggles in a manner that would have been a welcome replacement to any school textbook I had to slog through, back in the days. ( )
  lkernagh | Aug 2, 2015 |
excellent memoir of science vs fanaticism ( )
  Mohamed80 | Jul 11, 2015 |
Excellent narrator (loved this guy ever since the first book I heard him narrate... Piers Anthony's Incarnation series). Just hearing the letters that have been saved over the centuries is enough to make this book a Highly Recommend... this wonderful, smart, witty daughter of Galileo (I won't try to write her name... I couldn't tell how to spell it from listening) writes so poetically and with so many layers of meaning that they seem modern. The information on Galileo was interesting too, such as speculation on flip-flopping back and forth to cater to the "authorities", but it's really the letters that shine in this book. ( )
  marshapetry | May 13, 2015 |
This is a biography of Galileo using quoted at length letters from his daughter as the foundation of the biography. It clarifies the struggle between the church that held a world veiw and interpreted the bible in such a way as it supported the traditional view and resisted science that showed the traditional view was not true. It spends more time on Galileo and his life and discoveries than fully focusing on this controversy though the trial and aftereffects was a major part of the last few decades of his life.

The biographer is careful to show how Galileo did his best to practice his faith in sincerity while also seeking to spread the truth.

The trial of Galileo was a much more civil inquisition than one finds in the writing of Edgar Allen Poe. No torture was used though the author points out that it was authorized.

While Galileo was a faithful Catholic reading about how his daughters lived in a convent and the privitations they lived in and reading about how permission had to be obtained to publish his books I am not terribly impressed with the freedom allowed by the church in his time. This lack was a reason for great friction with the protestent movement which is mentioned in passing several times. ( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I had high hopes for this book but was a bit let down. I don't feel that the author could decide between fiction and nonfiction. There were not enough references for me to feel that it was scholarly enough. Overall just a so-so book. I think that a reader would have to be very interested in Galileo. I would not recommend it for a casual reader. ( )
  goth_marionette | Sep 21, 2014 |
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To the fathers
Galileo Galilei
&
Samuel Hillel Sobel, M.D.,
in loving memory.
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Most Illustrious Lord Father: We are terribly saddened by the death of your cherished sister, our dear aunt; but our sorrow at losing her is as nothing compared to our concern for your sake, because your suffering will be all the greater, Sire, as truly you have no one else left in your world, now that she, who could not have been more precious to you, has departed, and therefore we can only imagine how you sustain the severity of such a sudden and completely unexpected blow.
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Book description
Inspired by a long fascination with Galileo, and by the remarkable surviving letters of Galileo's daughter, a cloistered nun, acclaimed writer 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."

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.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140280553, Paperback)

Everyone knows that Galileo Galilei dropped cannonballs off the leaning tower of Pisa, developed the first reliable telescope, and was convicted by the Inquisition for holding a heretical belief--that the earth revolved around the sun. But did you know he had a daughter? In Galileo's Daughter, Dava Sobel (author of the bestselling Longitude) tells the story of the famous scientist and his illegitimate daughter, Sister Maria Celeste. Sobel bases her book on 124 surviving letters to the scientist from the nun, whom Galileo described as "a woman of exquisite mind, singular goodness, and tenderly attached to me." Their loving correspondence revealed much about their world: the agonies of the bubonic plague, the hardships of monastic life, even Galileo's occasional forgetfulness ("The little basket, which I sent you recently with several pastries, is not mine, and therefore I wish you to return it to me").

While Galileo tangled with the Church, Maria Celeste--whose adopted name was a tribute to her father's fascination with the heavens--provided moral and emotional support with her frequent letters, approving of his work because she knew the depth of his faith. As Sobel notes, "It is difficult today ... to see the Earth at the center of the Universe. Yet that is where Galileo found it." With her fluid prose and graceful turn of phrase, Sobel breathes life into Galileo, his daughter, and the earth-centered world in which they lived. --Sunny Delaney

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:45 -0400)

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Chronicles the life of Galileo Galilei, focusing on his relationship with his eldest child Virginia, and explaining how she helped influence her father's work.

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