In 1764, two Englishwomen set out to prove that swallows--contrary to the great Linnaeus's belief--do not hibernate underwater. But they must be patient and experiment in secret, such actions being inappropriate for the female of the species. In 1862, a hopeless naturalist heads off for yet another journey, though he can't seem to rid his conscience of the thousands of animals that have already died in his service. In 1971, a pregnant young woman, ill at ease with her socially superior husband and his stepchildren, hears of a Tierra del Fuegan taken hostage by the commander of the Beagle in 1835. This unwilling specimen was, we read, "captured, exiled, re-educated; then returned, abused by his family, finally re-accepted. Was he happy? Or was he saying that as a way to spite his captors? Darwin never knew."
Many of the characters who populate Andrea Barrett's National Book Award-winning collection, Ship Fever, feel similarly displaced in the world. They long to prove themselves in both science and love, but are often thwarted by gender, social position, or the prevailing order. In "The Behavior of the Hawkweeds," the wife of a genetics professor has learned that each narrative of discovery is matched by one, if not more, "in which science is not just unappreciated, but bent by loneliness and longing." Barrett's astonishing tales of ambition and isolation convey the meaning and feeling behind the patterns--scientific and emotional--but slip free of easy closure. The two women in "Rare Bird," like the swallows, depart England for more conducive climes, or so the brother of one believes. The reader is left to hope, and imagine. Much has been made of Andrea Barrett's interlacing of history, knowledge, and fact--and rightly so. But equal attention should be paid to the brilliant serenity and exactitude of her style. --Kerry Fried --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The quantifiable truths of science intersect with the less easily measured precincts of the heart in these eight seductively stylish tales. In the graphic title novella, a self-doubting, idealistic Canadian doctor's faith in science is sorely tested in 1847 when he takes a hospital post at a quarantine station flooded with diseased, dying Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine. The story, which deftly exposes English and Canadian prejudice against the Irish, turns on the doctor's emotions, oscillating between a quarantined Irish woman and a wealthy Canadian lady, his onetime childhood playmate. In "The English Pupil," Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus, who brought order to the natural world with his system of nomenclature, battles the disorder of his own aging mind as he suffers from paralysis and memory loss at age 70. In "The Behavior of the Hawkweeds," a precious letter drafted by Austrian monk Gregor Mendel, who discovered the laws of heredity, reverberates throughout the narrator's marriage to her husband, an upstate New York geneticist. Barrett (The Forms of Water) uses science as a prism to illuminate, in often unsettling ways, the effects of ambition, intuition and chance on private and professional lives.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
There are already so many good reviews on Amazon for this unusual and magnificent collection of short stories, I’ll try to be brief and add only what might be new and useful. Read morePublished 4 months ago by B. Case
Andrea Barrett is a writer I had not heard of before, but I am so glad I picked this collection up. Each short story is extremely well-written and moving in itself, but they work... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Tawni
This was my first Andrea Barrett purchase, but not my last. Her stories are wonderful - a great confluence between science and great character development. Read morePublished 10 months ago by J.Palmer
Poignant, lovely stories, often focussed on historical scientists and naturalists. Characters in the stories are beautifully drawn, unique and unforgettable.Published 13 months ago by Nancy Mccollum
Good stories, well written and unpretentious, uncovering secrets from the past and inspiration for the future. Recommend for English Lit class.Published 15 months ago by Kristin Ohman
These stories will not cheer you up. They will not inspire you to seek a career in science. They will not uplift you. Read morePublished 16 months ago by puzzleman