Age of Wonder

Alpine Books


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A decade in the making, pre-eminent biographer Richard Holmes presents this marvellously original look of the early scientific movement in Britain at a time when the distinction between the arts and sciences had yet to be established, when religious faith and scientific endeavour worked hand in hand in pursuit of answers to life's more ineffable questions.As eighteenth-century Britain teetered on the cusp of modernity, Holmes shows how a series of remarkable friendships came to define an age, nurturing ideas that challenged assumptions about identity, morality and religious belief. The astronomers William and Caroline Herschel, the chemists Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday, and their contemporaries wrestled with questions as relevant to us today as they were to Coleridge's generation: What are the sources of creativity? In what sense is there a human soul? Is it a fundamental mistake to regard science as a purely rational pursuit, or must we also recognise it as an imaginative and emotional one?With his customary sense of place, personality and period, his unerring ability to lay bare the workings of the human heart and his immense authority, this accessible and hugely readable book is breathtaking in its originality and its intellectual significance.


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