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John Pell (1611-1685) and His Correspondence with Sir Charles Cavendish: The Mental World of an Early Modern Mathematician [Hardcover]

Noel Malcolm , Jacqueline Stedall
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

February 10, 2005 0198564848 978-0198564843 2nd
Writing in 1939, the historian of mathematics Herbert Turnbull described John Pell as 'a mysterious figure' and commented: 'he may well prove to be an unsuspected genius, for his manuscripts appear to survive, unexamined, in the British Museum.' Turnbull's expectations were pitched a little too high: although Pell was a man of unusual intellectual abilities, and one of the leading mathematicians of his day, his work does not merit any use of the term 'genius'. The term 'mysterious', on the other hand, was well deserved; and no less mysterious is the fact that the great majority of Pell's voluminous manuscripts have remained almost entirely unexamined for more than sixty years after Turnbull published those comments. This first full length biography of John Pell (1611-1685) by Malcolm and Stedall reconstructs the life and times of this central and enigmatic mathematician and scholar. The text consists of over 600 pages and is presented in three parts: Part 1 "The life of John Pell (1611-1685)" is a thoroughly researched new account of Pell's life; Part 2 "The mathematics of John Pell" explores Pell's contribution to mathematics; and Part 3 "The Pell-Cavendish correspondence" is the first complete edition of Pell's correspondence, with detailed annotations. For historians of mathematics and science, philosophers, social and political historians and early modern intellectual historians, this superb work of scholarship is essential reading.

Editorial Reviews


...this is a magnificent book; rich, accurate, skillful, informative and thought provoking. Jan van Maanen, Metascience 15, 2006 The work of Noel Malcolm and Jacqueline Stedall is a very welcome contribution to the history and philosophy of mathematics, and they are to be congratulated for producing such a thorough and important study Douglas M. Jesseph, Review Symposium Malcolm's edition of Pell's correspondence with Sir Charles Cavendish... should be regarded as one of the best intellectual biographies of recent years. Mordechai Feingold, Huntingdon Library Quarterly, Vol 69 no 3 ...Noel Malcolm and Jacqueline Stedall have joined forces to produce a triumph of cooperative scholarship, which reconstructs Pell's life, intellectual context and mathematics...The authors have turned the challenging nature of their subject to advantage, amply demonstrating that the proper object of intellectual history is not just famous names and winning theories, but extends to the unknown and unvalued. Their meticulous piecing together of the records brings to life a period of enormous intellectual productivity, detailing its richness and vivacity, the networks, the systems of patronage and self-promotion, with all their quirks and pitfalls. The British Journal for the History of Science

From the Publisher

In the title, please remove ( Royal Microscopical Society Microscopy Handbooks)


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 658 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2nd edition (February 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198564848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198564843
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,882,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Correction October 9, 2005
This is just a comment from one of the authors. Ever since this book was published, Amazon has listed it as a 'Royal Microscopy Society Handbook'. !? It is not a handbook, it is not about microscopy, and it has nothing to do with the Royal Microscopy Society. The publishers have repeatedly asked Amazon to remove these false details, but they are still there. You may think this book is special-interest only, but, believe me, it isn't as specialized as that. Yours sincerely, Noel Malcolm (Ignore the star rating I give -- they just won't print this without one.)
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