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Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Doctor Copernicus by John Banville. Sixteenth century Europe is teeming with change and controversy: wars are being waged by princes and bishops and the repercussions of Luther are being felt through a convulsing Germany. In a remote corner of Poland a modest canon is practicing medicine and studying the heavens, preparing a theory that will shatter the medieval view of the universe.

In this astonishing work Sixteenth century Europe is teeming with change and controversy: wars are being waged by princes and bishops and the repercussions of Luther are being felt through a convulsing Germany. In this astonishing work of historical imagination, John Banville offers a vivid portrait of a man of painful reticence, haunted by a malevolent brother and baffled by the conspiracies that rage around him and his ideas.

For, in a world that is equal parts splendor and barbarism, an obscure cleric who seeks "the secret music of the universe" poses a most devastating threat. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published October 12th by Vintage first published More Details Original Title. The Revolutions Trilogy 1.

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Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Oct 29, BlackOxford rated it liked it Shelves: irish. An Accidental Hero What was it that inspired this book? Apparently not its subject. As portrayed by Banville, Copernicus is hardly a prepossessing character. Intellectually he is a desultory scholar. His concern with astronomical theory is intermittent and hardly the driving force of his life.

He is a dabbler who reacts to conditions, both of the mind and of the body, usually passively, as they arise. Although a minor cleric as cathedral canon in a Catholic region, he has no point of view on faith or the church or on science for that matter except as a possible impediment to the publication of his ideas. He is a medical doctor without empathy, a perennial student without a clear subject, a competent bureaucratic administrator but without perspective or judgment, a diplomat with little diplomacy, a lawyer without a practice.

He is a grey personality, having no clear direction in his life except a desire for reclusion and anonymity. The world of the Reformation, global exploration, the humanist Renaissance, and Prussian militarism swirls about him but raises little concern except when he is confronted directly by their effects - and even then he barely registers a response. The overall picture is one of an accidental intellectual hero, detached and aloof to the point of psychotic depression.

Perhaps that is the only justifiable reason. If so, is it reason enough? That science and scientists can be excruciatingly prosaic? View all 8 comments. If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. This year I decided that I'd start with a bang with "Doctor Copernicus". I've always believed in strong starts Drawing a parallel between "Kepler" and "Doctor Copernicus", they both have a very strong sense of architecture and style.

Dr Copernicus | John Banville

I like to compare them with a very dark baroque cathedral, filled with elaborate passages and sometimes over If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. I like to compare them with a very dark baroque cathedral, filled with elaborate passages and sometimes overwhelming to the casual tourist aka reader.

View 2 comments. Sep 29, Ted rated it it was amazing Shelves: lit-irish , have , re-read , postmodern-lit , historical-fiction.

He was convinced that he would be granted an insight, a vision, of profound significance, before the end. Was this why he was calm and unafraid?

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And on top, this book by Banville. All of them read. The first three at least rated all right, only rated the last of those just now. I knew that the books under it would need to be mentioned, maybe even referenced, in a review. My reading on GR since I read Doctor Copernicus has enlightened me to a few things that I somehow failed to acknowledge back then.

With the Passage of Time What did I learn in the interim? Perhaps as background information for his own understanding of the related science? The lack of anything technical is one of the things that I was uncomfortable with a couple years ago. Now I realize that the novel which I the wished had been written would have been of little interest to most readers — maybe not even of much interest to me!

Historical Background The novel is obviously about Nicolas Copernicus, the fellow who helped lift Europe and Western civilization out of the dark ages. Copernicus was born in , died in He spent most of his life in Poland. In Italy the Renaissance has been under way for two centuries, and is now in fact ending as a historical period.

Farther north, in Poland for example, the period which might be called the Northern or Central European Renaissance is, on the other hand, in its earlier stages. And in this part of Europe, something else is being born — the Reformation.

Doctor Copernicus

Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg assuming he did this at all in late Luther was, in fact, quite contemporaneous with Copernicus — born in , died in Nicholas ten years older, died 3 years earlier. He picks and chooses those which interest him, and leaves the rest unmentioned, hidden beneath what he does tell. Copernicus was not simply a man who observed the skies, and tried to put what he saw into a coherent system.

This is what we remember him for, but Banville following Koestler makes it clear that frankly this was only part of his life, and to Banville, the greater part of what he was doing from month to month, year to year, was quite different from that. Like the rest of his family, he was a third-order Dominican. The aspects he focuses on are the religious, the medical to some degree , and the diplomatic. But to an admirable extent, Banville is able to hold the reader with his telling of the backstory, his setting the stage on which Copernicus performed — the stage of the late middle age power politics in central Europe that, after , became increasingly intermixed with power struggles over the Reformation.

The book There are four parts, unlike Gaul. Actually, almost everything about these years is imagined by the author, since almost no documentary evidence has survived to modern times if such ever existed. It was a time wracked by the predations of the Teutonic Knights against these Polish territories, some of which are described in gruesome, thankfully short, detail. He liked the job well enough. Medicine was a means of concealment, whereby he might come at his true concerns obliquely and by stealth … But although he was free to work, he felt that he was trapped at Heilsberg, trapped and squirming, a grey old rat.

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  • He was thirty-three; his teeth were going. Once life had been an intense dream awaiting him elsewhere, beyond the disappointment of ordinary days, but now when he looked to that place once occupied by that gorgeous golden bowl of possibilities he saw only a blurred dark something with damaged limbs swimming toward him. It was not death, but something far less distinguished. It was, he supposed, failure. But this introspective tone is at times thrown out the window, in passages, some of them long, which seem like dream sequences. This is at the very beginning of the same Part II. Brief scrabble of claws on the slimed steps below the wall, brief glint of a bared tooth.

    In the darkness for an instant an intimation of agony and anguish, and the night flinches. Now he scales the wall, grinning … The sort of passage that can leave the reader guessing. Is it meant to suggest the fear and superstition of the times? Just an extravagant telling of a happening much more normal than it seems?

    Rheticus, a young disciple, who has read the unpublished, privately distributed version of the Copernican system. Rheticus, who spends almost five years helping Copernicus put his manuscript in order for publication, who carries it to the publisher, shepherds it through the doubts that the author has over and over about making it public.

    Before you open this spoiler, be advised that what it reveals is something that absolutely shocked me. So you may not wish to know. There are not many who will admit that if I had not gone to him, the old fool would never have dared to publish. That right! I loved it.