The Age of Wonder

Age of Wonder

The Age of Wonder

During high school graduation ceremonies for Andrew, one of the speakers built her remarks around a relatively new work at the time that captured the love of knowledge and learning.

Five years later, I finally  picked up Richard Holmes’ The Age of Wonder (first published in 2008).  Sometimes it takes a while, but I try never to pass up a good book recommendation.

And I’m so glad I did.  The Age of Wonder is a terrific work which looks at the growth of science in the Romantic Age.  Holmes tackles this broad topic with a blend of history, biography, art, science, and philosophy. In 500 pages that seem to fly by, the reader follows the intertwined stories of such historical luminaries as astronomer William Herschel and his sister Caroline, botanist Joseph Banks, chemist Humphry Davy, and writers such as Mary Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and John Keats.

The book rightly received stellar reviews from the start, which I cannot top.  “Flat-out fascinating,” “groundbreaking,” and “superlative” are just a few of the descriptions applied to this work.  I can only add “amen” and “highly recommended.”

Holmes has said that he wrote this book because,

“The old, rigid debates and boundaries – science versus religion, science versus the arts, science versus traditional ethics – are no longer enough.  We should be impatient with them.  We need a wider, more generous, more imaginative perspective.  Above all, perhaps, we need the three things that a scientific culture can sustain:  the sense of individual wonder, the power of hope, and the vivid but questing belief in a future for the globe.”

I love that idea of a “wider, more generous, more imaginative perspective” built on wonder, the power of hope, and a belief for good.  I am so thankful that Richard Holmes captured that idea and its foundation for today’s generation in this fascinating book.

More to come…

DJB

3 Responses

  1. Have you read The Orphan Master’s Son? It’s a commitment, but worth it. Set in N Korea, it explores the question: Is truth malleable and at what cost? within a modern history construct. It was too much for me the first time, so I set it aside for a couple of weeks. Second time, I couldn’t put it down.

    • Sara, I have not read that…but it is now on my list! But fair warning…it may be five years before I get to it! Thanks for reading. (I think the majority of your family are now followers of my blog. I always thought the Cotey’s had great taste!). Take care, DJB

  2. […] on the subject of connections in an age of specialization since finishing Richard Holmes’ The Age of Wonder, which looks at the growth of science in the Romantic Age. Holmes tackles this broad topic with a […]

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