***The Booksurfer made me aware of a new book worth coveting by biographer Richard Holmes - The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science. His post links to the Times review. Holmes's book follows the journeys of several discoverers of the day including William Herschel in his creation of the reflector telescope and Humphrey Davy on his numerous advances in chemistry. It sounds as though Holmes builds a case for what he sees as the very model of a scientific discoverer. As Jenny Uglow puts it in her excellent review in this weekend's Guardian:
The key virtue is close attention, immersion in the other: the questing, reasoning, "scientific" mode of Keats's negative capability. The track on which these questing spirits race, however, is far from fixed. Holmes's scientists roam far, literally and poetically, as the playful chapter headings suggest: "Joseph Banks in Paradise", "Herschel on the Moon", "Davy on the Gas".
As is the current mode, Holmes's book links science and imagination, so it is a must-have for me. While it is not out yet in the U.S., I link to the Book Depository if you click the title. They ship anywhere in the world for free! So, go for it.
***Finally, there is another book I am excited to read - a new biography of Oscar Wilde by Thomas Wright called Oscar's Books. It is being hyped as a revolutionary type of biography. It hardly seems that, but Wright chooses to re-tell Wilde's oft-told life through the books he read and has accomplished this by spending two decades tracking every last one of them down. I owe a big apology to the blogger who wrote about this book as I cannot for the life of me remember who it was. CORRECTION! It was Sheila, sorry Sheila. Here are the reviews from the Guardian, Independent, and The Scotsman. The Book Depository carries that one too.