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Doctor Copernicus Paperback – October 12, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 12, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679737995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679737995
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #964,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

These unusually fine biographical novels vivify Copernicus, the man who reshaped the medieval world view, and 16th-century German astronomer Johannes Kepler, whose science was a means to pursue the nature of God.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Publisher

7 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of thirteen previous novels including The Book of Evidence, which was shortlisted for the 1989 Booker Prize. He has received a literary award from the Lannan Foundation. He lives in Dublin.

Customer Reviews

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This is the second work by Mr. John Banville I have read.
taking a rest
John Banville will win the Nobel Prize for literature one day - mark my word.
C. B Collins Jr.
Many transitions of scene are rather abrupt and somehow do not seem to fit.
Wolfgang Aurbach

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on December 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the second work by Mr. John Banville I have read. The first was said by critics to be "the finest" introduction to this Author's work. I have now completed, "Doctor Copernicus", and can state it is immeasurably better. I have also started his work, "Kepler" and it shows all the same talent that Copernicus held.
Mr. Banville has at his command a wide scope of knowledge together with the talent to know when to put it to use. He places the thoughts of other noted thinkers within his story, so that they are seamless, as opposed to sound bite flourishes. The thoughts of Soren Kierkegaard, Albert Einstein, and Max Planck all join the writings of Dr. Copernicus, all assembled by Mr. Banville, as needed, appropriate, and without pretense.
Science is too often presented in a manner that the layperson is discouraged from pursuing the information. Historical fiction certainly should not be the only source for fact-finding, but when handled as well as this Author presents the material; it's accessible for anyone that is inquisitive. Copernicus's idea of Heliocentricity, the Elliptical Orbits of the Planets, which is dealt with humorously, and all the trials of defining new science are both readable and enjoyable. Particularly well presented was the whole concept of how theories, and published material was viewed by the Scientists in the 16th Century. Did Copernicus believe that his explanation was in fact a picture of reality, or that what he documented merely agreed with what he observed? Sounds a bit dry, but the writing is brilliant.
The last 19 pages entitled, "Magnum Miraculum", are some of the best writing I have had the privilege to read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
I decided to read this book because I very much enjoyed Mr. Banville's latest novel, The Sea, and I wanted to read some of his other work. As a physicist, I was immediately attracted to his three titles on some of the great scientists: Copernicus, Kepler and Newton. As Doctor Copernicus is the first book in the sequence, I started with it and found that I enjoyed it very much.

Of course, this book is very different from The Sea. Doctor Copernicus is one of Banville's early novels and it shows. It is a young man's book. His confidence as a writer is not as evident, his vocabulary is not so wide and the prose does not have the beauty and smoothness that it will come to have. On the other hand, this is a book that believably evokes the time period--the squalor even of the rich, the plagues & poxes, the political & religious intrigues. It is fascinating to submerge oneself into this world.

Mr. Banville also creates a number of excellent characters in this novel: Copernicus' brother, Andreas, and his uncle, the Bishop Lucas are two of the best though my favorite section is the one narrated by Rheticus, a fascinating man who had great influence on Copernicus' life and work. My only complaint is the character of Copernicus himself. Perhaps it is my own extensive experience with scientific history and biography, but the Copernicus Banville creates doesn't quite match up with the Copernicus I see in my head.

Still, how could I expect it to? This didn't stop me from enjoying the novel. I recommend it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By hominuslupus on April 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
Perhaps, the most salient quality of Mr. Baneville's novel is the medieval context in which it placed. This is a world where syphilis is a terminal and disfiguring disease, where bandits and brigands roam the countryside raping and looting at will. It is a world still lost in the dark caves of superstition and ignorance humanity retreats into when the lights of science and reason have been lost. Baneville's focus and adroit recreation of the perilous setting of late medieval Europe highlights the ultimate importance of Copernicus's astronomical theories and why they were so much more than some abstract academic exercise.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
By now, I think I can recognize Banville's method. I've read all but "The Sea" and his first two novels; I tried "Birchwood" but found its Gothic gloom too dim. How does DC rank among his other novels? I found it matches "Kepler" not only in the obvious ways of scientific exploration within a dismal and largely uncomprehending society that lags considerably behind the driven pace that propels its restive intellectual misfits. In the use of exchanges of letters, of another perspective by a rival, and in the evocative opening and closing sections, the muddled middle is balanced by the clarity of the book's start and finish.

As with my reviews of his other novels, I will offer a sample of his prose style and his power of characterization. He introduces an early teacher of Copernicus: "his life was a constant state of vast profound annoyance. The ravages wrought by the unending war between his wilfulness and a recalcitrant world were written in nerveknots on the grey map of his face, and his little eyes, cold and still above the nose thick as a hammerhead, were those of the lean sentinel that crouched within the fleshy carapace of his bulk. He did not like things as they were, but luckily for things he had not decided finally how they should be. It was said that he had never in his life been known to laugh." (12-13)

Copernicus is another in Banville's long parade of unlikeable protagonists. The author seems more mired in the details that he brings into the Prussian/Polish/Italian/Teutonic Knights/papal power struggles that accompany first Columbus and then Luther's challenges to the status quo.
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