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Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love


Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love Cover

ISBN13: 9780140280555
ISBN10: 0140280553
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

While Galileo Galilei was under house arrest, accused of heresy for his claim that the earth revolved around the sun, his daughter Virginia, a cloistered nun, proved to be her father's greatest source of strength through the difficult years of his trial and persecution. Winner of the Christopher Award and named a Notable Book of the Year by the "New York Times". Illustrations.

About the Author

Dava Sobel is an award-winning former science writer for The New York Times. The author of the bestselling Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter, Sobel’s work has also appeared in Audubon, Discover, Life, and The New Yorker.

Table of Contents

1.  To Florence   3

2.  On Bellosguardo   99 

3.  In Rome   187

4.  In Care of the Tuscan Embassy, Villa Medici Rome   231 

5.  At Siena   285

6.  From Arcetri   331

In Galileo's Time   369

Florentine Weights, Measures, Currency    375

Bibliography  376

Notes   383

Appreciation   394

Art Credits   396

Index   399

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Gypsi, June 6, 2010 (view all comments by Gypsi)
From the title of this book, I naturally expected it to be a biography of Galileo's daughter, which it is not exactly. I was a bit disappointed to begin with, as the first hundred pages or so are Galileo's early biography. Once his daughter, Virginia (later Suor Marie Celeste) came into the picture, the story became much more interesting.

Virginia was one of Galileo's three illegitimate children by the mistress of his early years, Marina Gamba. She eventually married, with Galileo's blessings, and he never lost interest in his children. Due to their illegitimacy which he felt would eliminate any chance of a decent marriage, Galileo had his two daughters entered into a convent at a very early age. The both became nuns at the convent of San Matteo on turning sixteen, Virginia taking the name Suor Marie Celeste and Livia that of Suor Arcangela. The son, Vincenzio, lived with Galileo in his late teens and eventually (after an unpromising start) became a good son to him.

This book recounts Galileo's personal and private life, using letters from Marie Celeste to give color to what would otherwise be a black and white, straight forward biography. Their shared love is beautiful to see in her letters--his to her having been lost--and the bits and pieces of every day life that she treats the reader to are thoroughly enjoyable.

This is a very detailed and readable history of Galileo, and gave me a much greater understanding of the man, his work and his difficulty with the Church. The conflict he felt between himself and his discoveries comes through very clearly and poignantly in his own words through his other letters. Her faith in him, and in the fact that he was not being heretical, is very apparent. It was interesting to me to see how differently Sobel portrays Galileo's fight was the Church--if her sources are to be believed (and I see no reason to disbelieve) it was not at all what history textbooks would have us believe.

As a history major and fanatic, I truly enjoyed reading this book. The alternate perspective of Galileo was refreshing and real--and made sense of a lot that had previously seemed murky to me about him and the Church. The addition of Marie Celeste's letters gave this book personality and took Galileo from a science god to a human being. My only regret is how few letters are in this book, and that the title is a bit misleading. Despite that, if you have any interest in Galileo, this is a must-read!
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Elaine, September 9, 2006 (view all comments by Elaine)
A fascinating read. This is an exploration of Galileo through his letters to his daughter in a cloistered convent. As usual with Dava Sobel's books it is science writing as it should be.
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Product Details

A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love
Sobel, Dava
Penguin Books
New York
Historical - General
Scientists - General
Science & Technology
Galilei, Galileo
Astronomers - Italy
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Series Volume:
bk. 145
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
8.40x5.54x.91 in. .79 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
Biography » Religious
Biography » Science and Technology
Reference » Science Reference » General
Science and Mathematics » Astronomy » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Biographies and Classics

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