Book

Fictions of the Cosmos

Frederique Ait-Touati

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780226011226
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226011240 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226011240.001.0001
Fictions of the Cosmos

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In today's academe, the fields of science and literature are considered unconnected, one relying on raw data and fact, the other focusing on fiction. During the period between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, however, the two fields were not so distinct. Just as the natural philosophers of the era were discovering in and adopting from literature new strategies and techniques for their discourse, so too were poets and storytellers finding inspiration in natural philosophy, particularly in astronomy. This book explores the evolving relationship that ensued between fiction and astronomical authority. By examining the writings of Kepler, Godwin, Hooke, Cyrano, Cavendish, Fontenelle, and others, the book shows that it was through the telling of stories—such as through accounts of celestial journeys—that the Copernican hypothesis, for example, found an ontological weight that its geometric models did not provide. The book draws from both cosmological treatises and fictions of travel and knowledge, as well as personal correspondences, drawings, and instruments, to emphasize the multiple borrowings between scientific and literary discourses. This volume looks at the practices of scientific invention, experimentation, and hypothesis formation by situating them according to their fictional or factual tendencies.

Keywords: Renaissance; Enlightenment; natural philosophy; astronomy; Kepler; Godwin; Hooke; Cyrano; Cavendish; Fontenelle

Book.  264 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Fictions of the Cosmos

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Godwin, Wilkins, Cyrano in Fictions of the Cosmos

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Fontenelle in Fictions of the Cosmos

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Huygens in Fictions of the Cosmos

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Robert Hooke in Fictions of the Cosmos

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Margaret Cavendish in Fictions of the Cosmos

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Conclusion in Fictions of the Cosmos

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