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The planets

by Dava Sobel

  Print book

Planets for poets    (2012-06-16)

Very Good

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by vleighton

  This lyric text explores the cultural and scientific details of the planets. Sobel focuses lavish prose on the historical meanings of the planets and how recent scientific discoveries are altering those meanings. Someone looking for a thorough treatise of facts will be disappointed. If you are a poet who wants to update your allusions to the wandering stars, you will like this book.

  Dava tries different styles in many of the chapters / essays. She changes the viewpoint, focus, etc. One is told first-person from the point of view of a meteorite. Another is a letter between two astronomers. In each, she collects meanings of each planet through the history of literature, theology, philosophy, and science. Because her range is great and the text is slim, she is very selective in the details she shares. And if your vocabulary is not good, you will be running to the dictionary.

  Note: Chet Raymo's Soul of the Night is also very lyric, but it is deeply philosophical as well. This book is just as poetic, but not nearly as philosophical. Both celebrate the beauty of the ordered cosmos, but this book fixes the heavens within their cultural and historical context, while Raymo places them in their philosophical context.

  I listened to the audio CD version of this book, and it was well-done. I might have been impatient with the lyricism if it had not been a background activity to my driving.


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