Dante and the Early Astronomer Science, Adventure, and a Victorian Woman Who Opened the Heavens Tracy Daugherty

Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
11 Jun 2019
ISBN:
9780300239898
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
232 pages: 210 x 140mm
Illustrations:
27 b-w illus.

In 1910, Mary Acworth Evershed (1867–1949) sat on a hill in southern India staring at the moon as she grappled with apparent mistakes in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Was Dante’s astronomy unintelligible? Or was he, for a man of his time and place, as insightful as one could be about the sky?
 
As the twentieth century began, women who wished to become professional astronomers faced difficult cultural barriers, but Evershed joined the British Astronomical Association and, from an Indian observatory, became an experienced observer of sunspots, solar eclipses, and variable stars. From the perspective of one remarkable amateur astronomer, readers will see how ideas developed during Galileo’s time evolved or were discarded in Newtonian conceptions of the cosmos and recast in Einstein’s theories. The result is a book about the history of science but also a poetic meditation on literature, science, and the evolution of ideas.

Tracy Daugherty is distinguished professor of English and creative writing emeritus at Oregon State University and the author of several acclaimed literary books, including the New York Times best-selling The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion. Daugherty’s work has appeared in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the Paris Review, and McSweeney’s.