Galileo's Daughter Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook
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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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Despite its title, this impressive book proves to be less the story of Galileo's elder daughter, the oldest of his three illegitimate children, and more the story of Galileo himself and his trial before the Inquisition for arguing that Earth moves around the Sun. That familiar tale is given a new slant by Sobel's translationAfor the first time into EnglishAof the 124 surviving letters to Galileo by his daughter, Suor Maria Celeste, a Clarisse nun who died at age 33; his letters to her are lost, presumably destroyed by Maria Celeste's convent after her death. Her letters may not in themselves justify a book; they are devout, full of pious love for the father she addresses as "Sire," only rarely offering information or insight. But Sobel uses them as the accompaniment to, rather than the core of, her story, sounding the element of faith and piety so often missing in other retellings of Galileo's story. For Sobel shows that, in renouncing his discoveries, Galileo acted not just to save his skin but also out of a genuine need to align himself with his church. With impressive skill and economy, she portrays the social and psychological forces at work in Galileo's trial, particularly the political pressures of the Thirty Years' War, and the passage of the plague through Italy, which cut off travel between Florence, where Galileo lived, and Rome, the seat of the Pope and the Inquisition, delaying Galileo's appearance there and giving his enemies time to conspire. In a particularly memorable way, Sobel vivifies the hard life of the "Poor Clares," who lived in such abject poverty and seclusion that many were driven mad by their confinement. It's a wholly involving tale, a worthy follow-up (after four years) to Sobel's surprise bestseller, Longitude. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The letters that his daughter, Suor Maria Celeste, wrote to her father over the course of her life serve as the backdrop and force behind Galileo's life and of Sobel's book. Sobel has carefully translated these letters and brought to light not only the life of Galileo, but the daily life details of a seventeenth century Italian nun. Suor Maria writes, for example, "Here are some cakes I made a few days ago, hoping to give them to you when you came...I am still not well...but by now I am so accustomed to poor health that I hardly think about it, seeing how it pleases the Lord to keep testing me always with some little pain or other" (121).
In over 124 letters, we see that Suor Maria Celeste and the nuns of San Matteo are a big part of Galileo's life. Writes Sobel, "Thus, all the while Galileo was inventing modern physics...and defending his bold theories...he was also buying thread for Suor Luisa, choosing organ music for Mother Achillea...and supplying his homegrown citrus fruits, wine, and rosemary leaves for the kitchen and apothecary of San Matteo" (119). In this way we see a Galileo who is deeply involved in the cloistered life of his daughter while at the same time making significant scientific contributions to the world at large.
It is at times a plodding discourse due to the significant amount of historical detail she embeds in virtually every page but it is also a delight to have such a plethora of information in one book.
Sobel has crafted a wonderful narrative, meticulously researched and skillfully presented. Through her portrayal of Galileo, the reader is taken to that point in time when the schism between science and religion first emerged.
Suor (or Sister) Maria Celeste took orders in the convent of St Clare at the age of 13, and the tone of her letters is of sheer reverence of her father, and there is a joy in her performing menial task for him, her brother and others in the family. The vow of poverty that Virginia (her name was changed upon entering the convent) took was real, and sometimes there is more than a hint of begging in her letters to Galileo. She also at times was given the responsibility of sending begging letters to possible patrons on behalf of the convent.
Intricate details of everyday life are given throughout; the account of the plague in central Italy in 1630 is particularly good. The continual return to such matters follows the ebb and flow of the letters. Often, letters were sent with some items that had been prepared, and there are requests to send a basket back, or some similar items. Details of convent life are an important backdrop to the writings of Galileo, and Suor Maria Celeste understood both (she helped make fair copy of some of her father's writings prior to publication).Read more ›
What I found most fascinating was the brilliance of Galileo and his inventions. Although he was criticized and later penalized by the Catholic Church he devoted his life to understanding the world and proving his hypotheses through his numerous experiments and inventions. His life is truly amazing as is the background we get from Sobel about Italy and Italian culture at that time.
The relationship that is established between himself and his daughter Suor Maria Celeste is clearly evidenced through the letters that she sends to her father. Unfortunately, there are no surviving letters from Galileo himself. How poignant are her inquiries about her father's work, health and home arrangements. It is clear from these letters that she holds her father in the highest esteem and that he returns this affection for her. Very interesting in itself is her life in the Poor Clare Convent and the trials she must endure in her life up until her untimely death from dysentery at age 34.
I had the opportunity to see the author, Dava Sobel, speak in my community and she is a wonderful speaker. Her sheer determination to write this book was amazing. She learned Italian so that she could translate the letters! If you ever have a chance to see her lecture you won't be disappointed. An outstanding book with a goldmine of information that will inspire you.
Most recent customer reviews
I picked this book up after having read and enjoyed Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time. Read morePublished 12 months ago by R Helen
In 1633, the astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was tried and convicted of heresy by the Holy Office of the Inquisition for the crime of having defended the idea that the sun... Read morePublished on Feb. 14 2014 by Jennifer Cameron-Smith
Great Service from the sender, quick and clean book.
Dava Sobel writing compelling story. This is a must read for all amateur back yard astronomers.
I listened to the this book on tape.
It has been one of the more enjoyable literary experiences I have had recently. The writing style is excellent. Read more
this book arrived in below my expectations, however the seller was great in that they offered me a full refund. Might purchase from this seller againPublished on March 3 2010 by Quincy Nelson
From the title of this book, I naturally expected it to be a biography of Galileo's daughter, which it is not exactly. Read morePublished on July 7 2004 by Gypsi Phillips Bates
This six part, 33 chapter book, by Dava Sobel, has two themes running through it:
Theme #1: Decribes thoroughly the life and times of Galileo Galilei (1564 to... Read more
Dava Sobel made an excellent job in this book. Family is an aspect of Galileo's life never exploded before (at least not that I know) and totally gives you a different perspective... Read morePublished on July 3 2004 by Sergio A. Salazar Lozano
A historical Memoir of science, faith, and love. The book purports to use letters from Galileo's daughter to form the basis of this biography and they are certainly a major part... Read morePublished on April 10 2004 by Arnold V. Loveridge
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