Set against the backdrop of the witchcraft trial of his mother, this lively biography of Johannes Kepler – 'the Protestant Galileo' and 16th century mathematician and astronomer – reveals the surprisingly spiritual nature of the quest of early modern science.
In the style of Dava Sobel's Galileo's Daughter, Connor's book brings to life the tidal forces of Reformation, Counter–Reformation, and social upheaval. Johannes Kepler, who discovered the three basic laws of planetary motion, was persecuted for his support of the Copernican system. After a neighbour accused his mother of witchcraft, Kepler quit his post as the Imperial mathematician to defend her.
James Connor tells Kepler's story as a pilgrimage, a spiritual journey into the modern world through war and disease and terrible injustice, a journey reflected in the evolution of Kepler's geometrical model of the cosmos into a musical model, harmony into greater harmony. The leitmotif of the witch trial adds a third dimension to Kepler's biography by setting his personal life within his own times. The acts of this trial, including Kepler's letters and the accounts of the witnesses, although published in their original German dialects, had never before been translated into English. Echoing some of Dava Sobel's work for Galileo's Daughter, Connor has translated the witch trial documents into English. With a great respect for the history of these times and the life of this man, Connor's accessible story illuminates the life of Kepler, the man of science, but also Kepler, a man of uncommon faith and vision.
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About the Author
James A. Connor is the author of Kepler's Witch: An Astronomer's Discovery of Cosmic Order Amid Religious War, Political Intrigue, and the Heresy Trial of His Mother and Silent Fire: Bringing the Spirituality of Silence to Everyday Life. A former Jesuit priest, Connor is professor of English at Kean University in Union, New Jersey; he has also held teaching posts at St. Louis University and Gonzaga University. He is a director of studies at the Lessing Institute in Prague. He holds degrees in geoscience, philosophy, theology, and creative writing, and a Ph.D. in literature and science. He is a prize-winning essayist published widely in such places as American Book Review, Traditional Home, Willow Springs, The Critic, The Iowa Review, and The Iowa Journal of Literary Studies.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Add Johannes Kepler's name to the short list of courageous geniuses who vaulted humanity into the modern world. Having conducted prodigious, often on-site research, James Connor reveals how the noted astronomer and mathematician braved the violent and superstition-ridden Middle Europe of the 18th Century to become one of the courageous geniuses (like Galileo, Luther, Newton, and Copernicus) who launched the modern world. Connor's gloriously clear prose makes this book a page-turner, even for the non-specialist. Amazingly, and despite lifelong threats to his life and livelihood, and a conspiratorial witchcraft trial which effectively ended his mother's life, Kepler searched his entire life for evidence of harmony in the universe. As Connor beautifully states: '...[Kepler] was no plodding empiricist, no earthbound pragmatist. His joy was in the perfect beauty of mathematics, especially geometry, which he always expressed in mystical terms. He was a mystical rationalist, a man who found transcendence by embracing reason rather than by abandoning it.' Connor's fascinating glimpse into Kepler's world should help us see how transcending commonplace thought can save the world rather than destroy it. By understanding Kepler's world, we hopefully may undertand our own.
The topic is excellent and very interesting from a human, spiritual as well as historical point of view. However, Connor¿s writing is so repetitive, slow and chaotic. He repeats the same ideas and facts over and over again, which makes the reading boring and annoying. In addition, he presented the story in such a chaotic way. So there is no time continuity or subject continuity. Suddenly the reader jumps from subject to completely different and uncorrelated one. Also, historical events are presented in a chaotic way. Keppler would be mad to see so much chaos in his story! But what annoyed me the most was the repetitions of facts and ideas.
I want to read a chapter....