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Surveying the night sky, a charming philosopher and his hostess, the Marquise, are considering thep ossibility of travelers from the moon. Would that please you?
Through a series of informal dialogues that take place on successive evenings in the marquise's moonlit gardens, Fontenelle describes the new cosmology of the Copernican world view with matchles clarity, imagination, and wit. Moreover, he boldly makes his interlocutor a woman, inviting female participation in the almost exclusively male province of scientific discourse. The popular Fontenelle lived through an entire century, from to , and wrote prolifically.
Hargreaves's fresh, appealing translation brings the author's masterpiece to new generations of readers, while the introduction by Nina Rattner Gelbart clearly demonstrates the importance of the Conversations for the history of science, of women, of literature, and of French civilization, and for the popularization of culture. Hargreaves is Professor of English at the University of Alberta. His interests range from Shakespeare to science fiction, and he is himself a cutural popularizer, having written as many stories, scripts, and documentaries as he has scholarly articles.
She has written on Englightenment science, medicine, and utopian novels, and is the author of the prizewinning The King's Midwife: A History and Mystery of Madame du Coudray California, Books Journals. About the Book Surveying the night sky, a charming philosopher and his hostess, the Marquise, are considering thep ossibility of travelers from the moon.
About the Author H. Related Books.
A Plurality of Worlds
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Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds
It offered an explanation of the heliocentric model of the Universe, suggested by Nicolaus Copernicus in his work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. The book is Fontenelle's most famous work and is considered to be one of the first major works of the Age of Enlightenment. Unlike many scientific works of its time, Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds was written not in Latin , but in French and is notable as one of the first books to attempt an explanation of scientific theories in popular language. In the preface, Fontenelle addresses female readers and suggests that the offered explanation should be easily understood even by those without scientific knowledge. A precursor includes Giordano Bruno 's De l'infinito, universo e mondi.
Published in , the book is remarkable, not so much for its literary merits as for the ultimate function its publication served. Hitherto, all scientific knowledge had been written only for other scientists and usually in some classical language. The answer to that question represents the second reason the book is remarkable. As Nina Rattner Gelbart puts it in the introduction to the edition of Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds :. The ideas he was bandying about were bold, controversial, even forbidden. As they had been scarcely known to the average reader before he explained and disseminated them, these astonishing ideas suddenly became all the rage. Fontenelle himself seemed aware of the dangers and tried to pre-empt negative judgment from the religious quarters with a few choice words in his own preface to the book:.