Read Kepler by John Banville Online


Johannes Kepler, born in 1571 in south Germany, was one of the world's greatest mathematicians and astronomers. The author of this book uses this history as a background to his novel, writing a work of historical fiction that is rooted in poverty, squalor and the tyrannical power of emperors....

Title : Kepler
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ISBN : 9780330372336
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 193 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Kepler Reviews

  • Nora Barnacle
    2018-12-24 01:01

    Banvil je izuzetno dobar pisac, a Đorđe Krivokapić majstor prevođenja.Ova knjiga, kroz Keplerovu biografiju (delovi su stvarni, nedostatak podataka je nadomestio autor) priča o strasti na kojoj se, najverovatnije, sve temelji: žudnjom za razumevanjem poretka sveta. Traži Kepler dokaz za harmoniju u Kosmosu, dok ga sapliću razne srednjovekovne muke: bolesti, samovolja raznih careva koji se takmiče u zvekanstvu ali su revnosni u neplaćanju obaveza, raznorazni hirovi klera, ratovi, deca koja umiru, žene slabog zdravlja, smarači koji traže da im napravi horoskop, Galilejeva sujeta, samodovoljni bonvivan Tiho Brahe inkvizicija koja smatra da mu majka mora goreti na lomači i svašta još. A on računa odnose između Marsove i Saturnove putanje i svašta još. Meri, gleda u nebo, u svoje snove, čeka znak, prati intuiciju, štampa knjige, piše, piše, piše… i veruje da je rešenje evo, tu.Da je ovo pisao Umberto Eko, bilo bi mnogo zanimljivije – verovatno bi nakitio radnju svakakvim misterijama i čudesima, a Banvilu je više stalo do književnog izraza, pa pored svega toga samo prolazi, uz pogled jednim okom. Zato, ako niste dobro skocentrisani, može biti malo nezgodno pohvatati ko je ko i šta se kad zbiva. Stil nije naporan, ali radnja nije linearna, a često sklizne iz trećeg u misli prvog lica, potom u epistolografiju (Keplerova korespodencija nije sačuvana, ali je Banvil to vrlo lepo rekonstruisao), a kad se tome dodaju matematika i astronomija, bude malko čupkasto. Ili je bar meni bivalo, jer sam u nedogled razvukla čitanje.Na kraju možete da izaberete utisak: radovanje što, eto, ne živimo u baš najgorem istorijskom trenutku ako nam je do znanja ili očajavanje što se saznajne žrtve i dalje ne vrednuju, pa je, manje – više, situacija nepromenjena. U prilog ovom prvom, Kepler kaže: „Pokaži im, svima im pokaži, nikada neću umreti“Četvorka.

  • BlackOxford
    2018-12-30 04:14

    Science As PyschotherapyUnlike his introduction of Nicolaus Copernicus in his first volume of his Revolutions trilogy, John Banville gives a very clear key to his interpretation of Johannes Kepler’s life in the second: “…disorder had been the condition of his life from the beginning.” Not only does this set off a much more distinctive character for Kepler than for Copernicus, but it also allows Banville to pursue the interaction of that character with the intellectual and social context of the time in a much more interesting way.Kepler’s neurotic condition - a longing for assurance about the ultimate rationality of the world - is described by Banville in all its stages: the initial trauma created by a chaotic midden of an early family life; subsequently confirmed through a young Lutheran adulthood in an increasingly oppressive Catholic country; and routinised in the shambolic Benatky castle-circus of Tycho Brahe. It Is hardly surprising that the need for an underlying order in the universe would be a response upon which Banville could build a narrative. Science, or more generally thought itself, as psychotherapy. And this psychotherapeutic narrative, never overdone but muted and hinted at continuously, does provide a convincing coherence to Kepler’s life. His ‘passion’ for astronomy is a sort of self-medication in Banville's story. Kepler’s work is a reflection and projection of his deepest fears of meaninglessness and purposelessness. His but-this-will-interrupt-my-work attitude to politics, religion, and family relations is a persistent part of his character until late in life. Even the death of his second child is primarily an inconvenience rather than a tragedy. A complete indifference to the suffering of his wife is a clear symptom of neurosis not diligence. It only gets to be called genius in history, not because of what it produced but because of where it leads. Neurotic doesn't imply destructive. However when the therapy, carried on as a slavish routine, becomes a solution, an end in itself, it doesn't lead anywhere but to the hell it is trying to avoid.Is this purely a personal story therefore? Well not really. It is likely that we all get trapped by neurosis of some sort given that every child develops at best a partial, and at worst a distorted take on reality which is then imported into adult life. If the result is success by prevailing standards, this largely unconscious condition is called a life-passion or driving force. If the results are by conventional norms unsuccessful, these same conditions are obsessions, or addictions. Doesn’t a career as a scientist, and not only a scientist, begin with a presumption of an underlying order awaiting discovery? And what would provoke anyone to presume such order and then to embark on a hopeful life of such discovery, if not an absence of order of one sort or another in one’s formative years? And there always is an absence of one sort or another. In Kepler’s case the therapy was intellectual; in others’ it might be political; in my case it was, in the first instance monastic, and then military. Only late in life did I recognise my own drive to exist in, by creating it, an orderly world as a consistent theme of my life. I too, like Kepler, ultimately chose an intellectual therapy, corporate finance (a discipline just about as solidly based in reason as astrology). Not because I was particularly gifted in either business deal-making or mathematics but because, also like Kepler, I had found a way to survive economically while pursuing the itch for order in an apparently chaotic world. And I too mistook the therapy for a destination. Your garden variety ends-means confusion. Banville has Kepler recognise his error in a letter of 1611 to his step-daughter (I don't know if the letter is authentic). The recognition is traumatic. Recovery is excruciatingly slow. I'm still recovering.So thank you John Banville for providing a bit of life-affirmation for me. And than you as well for the typically Banvillian additions to my vocabulary like caparisoned, utraquist, widow's weeds, pavonian and scolopendrine. I love it when the spellchecker gets snookered. Now, old pal, how about an historical biography of Freud and how psychoanalysis went off the rails?

  • Mare
    2018-12-27 09:26

    Ovo je knjiga koja prikazuje Keplerov život i borbu za objavu njegovih otkrića i radova. Prica je tim zanimljivija što je u pitanju fikcija pa je čitka i pruža više informacija o životu toga doba.

  • Tony
    2018-12-29 04:59

    KEPLER. (U.S. ed. 1983). John Banville. ***. This is the second novel in Banville’s trilogy on the famous astronomers, this time of Johannes Kepler, a 16th-17th century German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. As in his earlier work on Copernicus, Banville focuses his part real, part fictional life of his character primarily on his struggle to achieve his scientific goals against horrendous odds. It is again difficult to imagine being able to work under the conditions that existed at the time. The biggest difficulty was in finding a sponsor so that one would be able to survive while doing ones research – although today’s seeking of grants is somewhat similar. It would be interesting to compare Banville’s rendering of Kepler’s life and achievements vs. the actual details of his life. To do that, however, would require plowing through some rather dull biographical works that would soon put one off. Even under the conditions that Banville provided for his Kepler, we must still appreciate his contributions to the science of astronomy. Embracing the Copernicus concept of a heliocentric universe and relying on the astronomical observations of Tycho Brahe, Kepler was able to show that the planets travelled in elliptical orbits, with the sun occupying one of the foci. He was also able to show that they did not travel at a uniform velocity, but at velocities that managed to carve out equal areas for equal distances travelled. This eliminated the need for complex mathematical models for what had been perceived as multiple retrograde motions for the planet Mars. He also managed to discover sun spots. Just getting his findings published was a huge achievement in the part of the world that he was living in. Religious wars were all around him in countries ruled by incompetent emperors. The novel definitely conveys the dedication of these men of science in a way that is not appreciated by today’s average reader.

  • Irene
    2019-01-07 02:26

    As the title implies, this is historical fiction about the famous mathematician and astronomer Johannes Keppler. Banville brings his signature precision of language and gift for creating character and atmosphere to this novel. I can not evaluate the historical accuracy of the story since I knew nothing of Keppler’s personal life and only the most basic highlights of his professional achievements. But, I enjoyed this unique subject.

  • David
    2018-12-25 07:59

    Banville is a fantastic writer, and this I think is his best historical fiction. I really felt I was struggling through the dirt and misery of those times with Kepler, chasing his dream of perfect order in the cosmos, in the footsteps of Copernicus who established that the galaxy is heliocentric. When you are taught the dry facts at school you get nothing of the passion that went into them, and schoolkids should be given more of that.

  • S.
    2019-01-18 02:09

    John Banville is one of my favorite writers, a leaning reinforced by his historical novel Kepler, about the 17th century mathematician & astronomer Johannes Kepler. Math and astronomy are not among my usual haunts, but Banville writes so well and so precisely, he can infuse anything with interest. Part of the strength of his writing is his talent for choosing the right word. It doesn’t have to be a big $10 word, it might just be two somewhat usual words put together unexpectedly.“Looking now afresh at the form of this little book, I am struck by the thought that perhaps, without realising it, I had some intimation of the troubles to come, for certainly it is a strange work, uncommonly severe and muted, wintry in tone...”His writing sometimes reminds me of the poetry of Lucie Brock-Broido, who embroiders amazing sentences and syntaxes, as in the poem “Death as a German Expert,” from which I include here an excerpt just for interest:** . . . Always the dead will be lined as sadAnd crookedly as fingerling potatoes in root-cellars dank enoughFor overwintering. In Luckenwalde a young girl slides a needleIn the turnip-purple soft fold of her inner arm and this, too,Transfigures a kind of joy.**Kepler the novel is above all a book about intellectual striving. Kepler believed man was made in God’s image, and thus should be able to understand the universe God created, and he tries so hard it puts all of us to shame. It is amazing that anyone could figure out the laws of planetary motion just by observing the sky through a telescope, especially someone like Kepler who spends adulthood hounded by religious persecution and besides that seems to be feeling ill most of the time. Poor guy. I liked him, but not too much. There are other interesting if somewhat flat characters, like Kepler’s potion-mixing mother, his dimwit brother, a dwarf, a Jewish lens maker, astronomers, emperors, and of course the female interests - Barbara, Regina and Susanna.

  • Linda Howe
    2019-01-01 08:08

    Wish I could give it 3.5 stars; Kepler is well worth reading but I'm not mad about it. First, as others have pointed out, Banville is first of all a very skilled wordsmith. There are moments of imagery and description that simply knock one's socks off. Second, the woven structure is quite engaging. throughout the reader is inside Kepler's brain which is quite an interesting place marrying quite unexpectedly the banal with the marvelous. Kepler talks to himself, dreams, worries, aches for his heart's desire--finding a mathematical expression for the harmony of the universe (talk about having big goals!), all while grappling with the endless difficulty of day to day life in the seventeenth century: family (his mother tried for a witch), children and wives dying, plague and a myriad of other untreatable illnesses, lice, cold, straw mattresses, his stomach and bowels, money, the endless damp and cold, not to mention the miseries of years and years of religious war and being a court dependent--(an you believe? The emperor of Bohemia kept of a royal mathematician)--not that he was regularly paid. Through it all Kepler travels--walking, riding donkeys, you name it, but it was slow and uncomfortable (no wonder most people stayed at home)--around and around central Europe looking for sponsors, for colleagues, for "observations," his traveling mirroring the restless of his brain as he hunts for elegant solutions to the complex problems he set himself. Moments of happiness occur and are noted. It's all rather nicely woven together--actually rather a feat to stuff this all into under 200 pages--though I'm still thinking about that set of letters. Here is a view of the underside of what it feels like to be world famous, to be doomed to live the life of driven intellectual.

  • Steffi
    2018-12-21 06:19

    Die physikalischen Entdeckungen Keplers interessieren mich kaum und ich würde sie sicher nicht ansatzweise begreifen. Aber Kepler wird hier auch in erster Linie als Mensch gezeigt: Einerseits sich seiner Theorien allzu gewiss, dann auch arrogant und selbstgerecht; außerdem wenig kompromissbereit und die Etikette höherer Kreise mißachtend; andererseits ist er auch ein Waschlappen: Seine Frau wird ihm fast gegen seinen Willen angeheiratet und er wehrt sich kaum, leidet aber ständig unter ihr. Da er arm ist, muss er dann doch immer wieder sich den Mächtigen anbiedern: Landesherrn, Baronen, Rudolf II in Prag; andererseits büßt er im Laufe seines Lebens mehr als eine Stellung ein, weil er nicht bereit ist, seine Religionszugehörigkeit zu wechseln nur weil es ihm von Vorteil sein könnte. Im Ganzen wirkt er doch oft eher hilflos und lächerlich. Dann ist der Roman auch eine interessante Beschreibung gesellschaftlich-politischer Umstände, unter denen Wissenschaft betrieben wird: Man muss sich dem anpassen, was den Mächtigen (sei es der Herzog oder der erste Mathematiker des Hofes in Prag) an wissenschaftlichen Ergebnissen erwarten. Vielleicht auch eine Analogie zu heute?Anstrengend ist allerdings der Abschnitt, der aus Briefen zusammengesetzt ist, deren Reihenfolge nicht chronologisch angeordnet ist (evtl. aufsteigend und dann wieder absteigend, also vielleicht zentrisch oder elliptisch wie die von Kepler beobachteten Planetenbahnen?). Das macht es schwer, der Handlung zu folgen.

  • Cassandra Kay Silva
    2018-12-26 05:04

    I was interested in the dialogues between Kepler and Tycho Brahe. The letters were also a joy. Were any of these original letters or purely fiction?

  • Michael Battaglia
    2018-12-28 05:24

    Sometimes being the smartest person in the room doesn't necessarily help when nobody knows what the heck you're talking about. And the ones who do all assume it's magic anyway.The 1600s were not the best time for the world of science. They weren't awful, as people were starting to realizing that invisible elves with weights weren't actually responsible for gravity but it was still kind of an uphill battle. Progress was being made by various learned men, men who were looking toward the sky and the land and trying to find not only the reasons for how matters in nature acted the way they did, but why, because having some inking of the why might get you that much closer to knowing the mind of God.Of course, the problem with this was anyone who might care was either working themselves ragged until plague or the death at the ripe old age of forty took them, or they were in charge and were more concerned with taking over territory or making political alliances. Coming along and stating that you could predict the motions of the planets and stars would either be met with a "Will it help me farm faster?" or "Will it help me make war better?" Not really the most resounding of reactions.Hence, Johannes Kepler's dilemma. Struggling to understand the very nature of the planets via the magic of mathematics, he's not met with a lot of compassion, either treated jealously by other scientists who want the glory even if they don't fully understand the implications, or as some kind of wondrous toy by the emperor, kept around for the novelty. This is the world that Banville recreates, in what is a nominal sequel to his previous work of historical fiction "Copernicus" (it takes place maybe fifty years after that novel, at least to start). Unlike that work, Kepler isn't set to rock the very foundations of everyone's worldview by proclaiming that we aren't the center of everything, his most radical notion appears to be that the very engines that runs the universe are based on math but since everyone else pretty much believes that alchemy is real it's not like he's gaining a lot of traction. Remember those times when your calculus professor would drone on about some abstract point and the class would just glaze over? Imagine everyone in the world doing that every time you opened your mouth and you can understand why Kepler may be a bit on the prickly side.The focus this time out seems to be more on Kepler and his homelife and inner travails, depicting him as a man with a slight anger management problem and a streak of passive-aggressiveness (his comments in letters about how Galileo hasn't commented on his work but doesn't really have to but it would be nice if he did the rotten son of a gun have their own dry hilarity), but at the same time you can understand his frustrations. He's a man with a revelation about what science can unlock in terms of knowledge, and being driven to that end all he finds are people throwing roadblocks in his path for silly reasons, for politics, for religion (as a Lutheran, to say he's not super-embraced is perhaps understating slightly although he seeks to know God as much as anyone else in that time), for domestic reasons (forced into marriage, he and his wife get along as well as any two people forced together would, although they have lots of kids, most of whom perish since nobody has discovered hygiene yet) to the point where he wants to beat his head against the wall and scream. But even with that he would find himself calculating the arc of his smashing his head into a hard surface, and seeing what that would tell him about the mysteries of the universe.In the last novel Copernicus was widely disliked as a person and as such the novel sometimes made you wish he would be a supporting character in his own story. Kepler, while sometimes teeth-grindingly blunt and tactless in his zeal for the wonders of science, is much easier to stomach as the lead character and as such the side-plots and supporting characters seem toned down somewhat. His mother may be the wackiest person here, but she rarely appears (and gets one good scene where she stares down torture). Meanwhile even people who should be larger than life (Tycho Brahe, Emperor Rudolf) seem to recede in a sense in relation to Kepler, as the focus tends to stay on his endless quest for the heart of mathematics, and his desire not to smack the people who gets in the way of it.With that said, it means a more even experience than "Copernicus", and in some ways more immersive. The world is far from the one we know but still becoming something that we might recognize as modern, but Banville has the trick of writing about the 17th century in its native tongue without making it seem like a costume drama or some kind of affectation. It's all filtered through the sensibilities of those who existed at that time, without being completely alien to us. And if that doesn't seem like a neat trick, try writing a story about the Thirty Years' War without seeming stilted or anachronistic. He throws out all the tricks he can to keep it interesting, flashbacks, letters, the occasional odd dreams, but mostly it benefits from being short (I don't know if this could have been sustained as a six hundred page epic, even if the material supported that length). It doesn't quite have that seductive undercurrent that pulls you into his best novels, but his prose is a finely oiled machine as always, finding new ways to describe the mundane in a fashion that makes it seem new and mundane at the same time. By giving us Kepler, he brings a world to life in the manner of the best historical fiction, by brushing off the dust, and in an even defter feat may manage to do the one thing that a whole army of math teachers may not have been able to do for you: make you see why it matters, for starting to understand how it works puts you on the path to seeing how it all fits together, and how we fit into the elegance of its motions.

  • Nigel
    2018-12-22 01:00

    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 wealthy patrons to fund his scientific endeavours and with whom he is always at odds or out of step. I think Banville's books are less about either the explicated sciences or the accurate biographies of these men, but about their hidden inner lives as they 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.

  • Bruce Watson
    2019-01-05 02:58

    Historical fiction can be such a dustbin -- frustrated historians trying to imagine details they cannot dig up, frustrated novelists turning to history to find the stories they cannot imagine. That's why "Kepler" is a pleasant surprise. Both literate and accurate, it brings to life that perilous balance between science and pseudo-science that Kepler and his contemporaries shifted. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in astronomy or the history of science. Or just a good novel. And I'm pleased to note that it's a trilogy.

  • Jane
    2019-01-13 06:05

    What to say about a book like this? Clearly very well written. Clearly a fascinating time. But so hard to read about a bunch of people who are all so obnoxious.

  • Kalliope
    2018-12-23 03:16

    I may have to read this a second time.

  • Dhruv
    2018-12-23 09:12

    Cursed with poor eyesight, yet thriving under his Emperor patron in Prague, Kepler garners renown amidst his vast network of scholars. This book mainly simulates what it would have been like to be an intellectual in the time of Johannes Kepler, who started from humble beginnings, and was for his whole life, suspect for not adhering to doctrinal sects of Christianity at the time.In a time of poor medical facilities, we see Kepler grapple with a trying family life, with several of his children succumbing to disease, and ultimately his first wife dying after a period of hysteria and neurosis. Through all this Kepler maintains his strength of character and thirst for scientific inquiry. What is most amazing is his upheaval of accepted standards in science in favor of a heliocentric view of the heavens, pioneered by Copernicus. This book is exemplary of the relative immunity that intellectuals, scientists, artists, politicians enjoy during tumultuous political climates. There's not much insight into the man's actual discoveries, or contributions. Think of this account as more of a simulation of what it'd be like to chance upon the deep revelations Kepler experienced, and how they arose. There is some mention of Copernican theories and Kepler's endorsement of them. Some talk of his exacting patrons, and his encouraging mentors. Some cross-references to his contemporary, Galileo, and his secretive nature. Interestingly, highlights a mutual respect, acknowledged by Kepler, in this work, even in absence of a friendship.Kepler's intellectual life is starkly contrasted with his family life, where he's occasionally accused of being negligent. Today, this may not occur, since so many more people are understanding of higher education, and even encouraging, whether it's parents, or a partner. The intellectual's life is akin to that of a hermit's, where some steady paying job is foregone today, for greater mental and spiritual fulfillment tomorrow, where carnal pleasures are traded off for cerebral pursuits. I found this an inspiring bridge between wikipedia's biographical facts, and Kepler's actual work. I don't think I'll ever take up his works. Of what little I know, his greatest contribution was to orbital theory, among others.(complaint: the part with the letters was a bit tough to get through. clunky. served the same purpose as parallel plots, but jumping back and forth in time, etc. didn't flow, and frankly, lost me for a while.)

  • Jeff Kaye
    2019-01-02 07:07

    The second, after Copernicus, in a trilogy of science-based novels, Kepler's story evokes the times (late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries) well and the characters are well drawn. The drawback is that the timelines and the discoveries (for example, that the planets do not circle the sun as Copernicus thought, but glide in ellipses) are not sufficiently moulded into a compelling story but seem to be more narratives, thoughts and speeches upon a history. Perhaps the best character is the seldom remembered Dane, Tycho Brahe, whose many observations of the planets formed the bedrock of later work.

  • Jasminka
    2018-12-19 01:25

    Johanes Kepler je jedna markantna figura 17 stoljeća, nemački astronom i matematičar poznat po Keplerovim zakonima o kretanju planeta oko Sunca.Ova knjiga počinje sa Keplerovim dolaskom u Prag 1600 godine, nakon što ga je pozvao danski astoronom Tiho Brahe. Kroz njegova razmišljanja saznajemo ukratko što se pre toga događalo, uglavnom oko njegove ženidbe, oko njegovih interesovanja za astronomiju i heliocentričnom Kopernikusovom sistemu,kako je na osnovu toga 1596 g. objavio prvu knjigu Mysterium Cosmographicum (Svemirska tajna). U toj knjizi je došao do veličanstvene ideje da bi svako od pet Platonovih tijela moglo biti jedinstveno umetnuto u sferu, grupiranjem tih tijela, svako obloženo sferom, jedno unutar drugog bi proizvelo šest slojeva, koji odgovaraju šest poznatih planeta (Merkur, Venera, Zemlja, Mars, Jupiter i Saturn). Keplerov model Sunčevog sistema možete vidjete na Posle smrti Tiha Brahe, 1601 g., Kepler koristi njegova posmatranja i mjerenja i posvećuje se Marsu, pa tako dolazi i do svojih poznatih zakona, koje je objavio u knjizi Astronomia Nova. Tada postaje carski matematičar Rudolfa II, a zbog svoje reputacije, pre svega kao carskog astrologa, nije progonjen zbog svoje protestantske vjere od koje se nije htio odreći. Bavi se i optikom. Međutim, dolaskom Matije na presto 1612, on je izgubio svoje privilegije pa je prognan iz Linza. U međuvrijemenu je njegov život bio tužan, izgubio je mnogo od svoje djece, posle i svoju ženu Barbaru i njenu ćerku iz prošlog braka Reginu koju je mnogo volio. 1613 g. se ponovo ženi 24 godišnjom Suzanom i taj je brak bio sretniji no prvi. Suočava se sa inkvizicijom koja goni njegovu majku zbog vještičarenja. Knjiga završava tačno dan-dva prije njegove smrti 1630 kad je krenuo da od cara naplati dug od 12000 forinti da bi mogao pečatiti Rudolfove tablice koje računaju detaljno kretanje planeta tokom godine, ali ga je smrt sprečila u tome. Opet fini stil i književni izraz, ali zbog nelinearne radnje i navraćanja na određena dešavanja, pomalo naporno za čitanje u smislu da je potrebno da se posvetite knjizi kompletno.

  • Graziano
    2019-01-03 04:25

    "Com'era innocente, com'era inutilmente amabile la superficie del mondo! Il mistero delle cose semplici lo assali'. Una festiva rondine sfreccio' attraverso una scompigliante folata di fumo di lavanda. Avrebbe piovuto di nuovo. gli giunse il suono di una corda pizzicata. Sorrise, in ascolto: era forse la musica delle sfere?" (p. 71)"Cosa aveva guidato suo padre? Quali voglie impossibili si erano agitate e avevan dato calci dentro di lui? E che cosa? Il pestare di piedi durante le marce? il puzzo penetrante della paura e dell'attesa sul campo di battaglia, all'alba? il calore bruto e il delirio di qualche locanda lungo la strada? Era possibile amare la mera azione, il brivido di un fare incessante? Dinanzi ai suoi occhi tristemente meditativi ricomparve la finestra. Questo era il mondo: quel giardino, i suoi figli, quei papaveri. Sono una piccola creatura, il mio orizzonte e' ristretto. Allora, come una improvvisa inondazione di gelida acqua, venne il pensiero della morte, essa stringeva in pugno un mondo di spada arrugginita." (p. 108)"Il cerchio e' il portatore delle armonie pure, le pure armonie sono innate nell'anima, e cosi' anima e cerchio sono una cosa sola.Che semplicita', che bellezza." (p. 192)"La ragione per cui certi rapporti producono un accordo ed altri una dissonanza non e' comunque da ricercarsi nella aritmetica, bensi' nella geometria ..." (p. 193)

  • Pierce
    2019-01-07 03:09

    Things sure were tough around 1600. You were lucky if you got up in the morning and even luckier if you made it to bed that night without dying of a fever.This novel won me over! In the beginning it was pretty damn moany and the language was a bit flowery but eventually the story got hold of me and I enjoyed it plenty.I have enormous respect for the amount of research that goes into a historical novel like this. It shows a commitment to the task that's not apparent in writing a novel about, say, being a young white male working in a office somewhere getting to grips with your young white maleness.I liked the science bits. What struck me about Kepler's work was the never-flagging optimism (from an eternal pessimist) that if he were to pull back the curtain just a little more, that the human mind would finally slot into the physical universe with geometric precision. This is something we still believe is just around the corner. Scientists have always believed it is just around the corner.

  • Tlaura
    2019-01-16 08:16

    This is pretty awful. Banville pulled his interpretation of Kepler more or less completely from Arthur Koestler's Sleepwalkers (including the heaping pile of misogyny; there is zero historical evidence that Kepler didn't want to marry his first wife), chucks out all the science, and throws in a soothsaying dwarf, some unrequited intrafamily love, and a whole bunch of imaginary bellyaching about Galileo. Kepler as presented here isn't particular religious but he's new-agey as can be, navel gazing about the desire to "live", reflecting on the nature of happiness and childhood, and just adding a few requisite asides about chaos-of-the-world, harmony-of-the-spheres so you remember who you're reading about. The middle section of the book, written as fictionalized letters that actually reflect to some degree Kepler's actual letters, is by far the best part and is even occasionally moving. Things get much worse when Banville ignores the source material and gets creative.

  • vorei.una.stonsa
    2019-01-14 08:03

    Una scrittura intensa e precisa che mi ha fatto percepire come reali voci, odori e colori di un'epoca e di una vita intera: il personaggio di Keplero mi ha impressionato per la sua vividezza e mi ha fatto riflettere su quanto la scienza e l'arte del passato siano state in balìa dei capricci del destino e dei potenti, su quanto la vita fosse fragile e minacciata in ogni momento, su come un tempo fosse difficile avere il controllo sulle proprie volontà ed aspirazioni, su come fosse complicato comunicare e conoscere.Quanta pioggia, quanta fatica, quanta rassegnazione e quanta assoluta, indomita volontà...

  • Evan
    2018-12-20 05:10

    I can't believe I'm not giving this one five stars. It's because the scientific ideas seem a little grafted on, rather than part of the story. But that's like the one flaw in a precious stone, visible only because the rest is so perfect.Radiant, beautiful, moving novel with an exquisite sense of place and prose that was so good it was suspenseful to read.I will read all of Banville's seventeen or so novels based on the strength of this one.

  • Richard
    2018-12-29 04:18

    There is less science in this book, much more interrelationships between Catholic power and Lutherans, the pressures on Kepler and the difficulty of his bringing himself to accept the evidence of Brahe's calculations to move from epicycles to elliptical motion of the planets. The writing is fine, and Banville has just the right way of bringing the reader into the situations in which he finds himself and emotions they arouse in Kepler.

  • David
    2018-12-28 08:16

    «¿Qué decía el judío? Se nos dice todo, pero nada se nos explica. Sí, tenemos que aceptarlo todo a ojos cerrados. Ahí reside el secreto. ¡Qué sencillo! Sonrió. Así, no fue un simple libro lo que arrojó, sino el fundamento del trabajo de toda una vida. Al parecer, no tenía la menor importancia [...] No mueras nunca, no mueras nunca». (Kepler, John Banville, p. 286)

  • Robert
    2018-12-28 01:13

    I'm really liking this one. Hope it holds up.It didn't. There is a long section of "letters" Kepler writes to various people, fellow astronomers and/or patrons, and it just doesn't seem to me it moves us ahead. The book returns to narrative structure for the ending, and that was pretty well done, but I'm afraid it doesn't live up to the promise of the beginning.

  • Nosemonkey
    2019-01-03 01:20

    This should have been exactly my sort of thing - just the right period, just the right subject with the rise of science and battles against superstition, religion and alchemy. The characterisations are solidly believable, the period brought to life well. Not sure why it didn't really click - I should have loved it, I just thought it was OK.

  • Neale
    2019-01-14 03:58

    This is my favourite historical novel. Banville's prose is exquisite, moving between a grimy reality and Kepler's cosmic dreams of mathematical order. Novels of ideas don't come any better than this. Banville's style often seems mannered in his other books, but here it is in its element. Read it alongside Arthur Koestler's 'The Sleepwalkers'. Perfect.

  • Frank
    2019-01-19 06:15

    A crank writing about a crank. Admittedly, both author John Banville and his subject the astronomer Johannes Kepler are brilliant. There were snippets finely crafted, and the peripatetic life of Kepler around middle Europe against a background of religious warfare was a revelation. I don't know if I could recommend it, however.

  • Babs
    2019-01-04 02:23

    In tears, his vision splintering, he turned away, clasping the creature to him, and felt it twitch, and cough, and suddenly, as if starting in amazement, die: his son. The damp hot head lolled in his hand. What pitiless player had tossed him this tender ball of woe? He was to know other losses, but never again quite like this, like a part of himself crawling blind and mewling into death.