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Dance for Two: Essays Paperback – March 26, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
-?Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib., Coral Gables, Fla.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
So I added DANCE FOR TWO to my stack of purchases and read it over the last two nights. I was not disappointed.
DANCE FOR TWO is a collection of 24 short essays that Lightman has published over the last 15 years in various magazines and journals. Each essay is written in a economical, nearly austere, style that is reminiscent of the clear, autumn days on the East Coast that must have influenced Lightman. Though the prose is spare and distilled, the essays themselves are strangely moving. In reading, "Smile", a boy-meets-girl story reduced to the mechanics of the eye, ear, and brain, I got choked up when I read the ending lines "All of this is known. What is not known is why, after about a minute, the man walks over to the woman and smiles." I still don't know why I got choked up.
Unfortunately, like any collection of short works, some of the essays that would be quite enjoyable on their own pale in comparisons to the more beautiful siblings. While most of the essays here are excellent, one or two only rise to the merely good.
The subject of these essays is ostensibly about the role of science in everyday human experience, and Lightman does a masterful job of communicating sometimes complex topics into common language. But, as the title of the collection suggests, a dualistic theme pervades throughout the book.Read more ›
did, and after reading the intro and first chapter. Some
people are born with 'old souls': Lightman is one. A
scientist explains how the universe works lyrically, and
with passion. Some of finest prose on cosmology since
Chaucer. Completely accessible. Damned near perfection.
A keeper. Great material for bedtime stories, for all
Have you ever pondered that the upward force generated by the churning electrons and protons in the molecules of the stage floor opposes and exactly counterbalances the downward force that the weight of the ballerina exerts on the floor? Or that as she completes her leap, the earth's orbit readjusts itself by a trillionth of an atom's width? Lightman has pondered these and other matters, and describes all in graceful, accurate and compelling prose.
Several events in the book, like the building of a bomb shelter, appear in a fictional setting in Lightman's novel "Good Benito," leading me to wonder if other chapters of his first novel are autobiographical, also.
Several humorous essays describe imaginary visits by Newton, Einstein, and others to Lightman's twilight zone. These visits always end with an unexpectd twist, leaving this reader gasping for reality--and for more.
One of Lightman's many perceptive messages can be found on p. 95 where he says, "Science offers little comfort to anyone who asks to leave behind a personal message in his work." Of course, this impersonality is undoubtedly the key to the great success of science. But in bringing his own wry and perceptive slant to 'writing' about science, Lightman is able to have his cake and eat it too, conveying an entertaining message which is both scientifically informative and yet gratifyingly personal.
_Dance for Two_ is a collection of essays centered on the interplay, differences, and similarities between science and art. "It seems to me," Lightman observes, "that in both science and art we are trying desperately to connect with something-this is how we achieve universality. In art, that something is people, their experiences and sensitivities. In science, that something is nature, the physical world and physical laws." And pure science, he believes, offers a kind of immortality akin to that of great art:
"Hundreds of years from now, when automobiles bore us, we will still treasure the discoveries of Kepler and Einstein, along with the plays of Shakespeare and the symphonies of Beethoven."
The essays are themselves artfully written, sometimes vividly poetic, sometimes almost musical in their composition. The opening piece, "Pas de Deux," describes the physical forces acting opposite a ballerina with no less delicacy than we imagine of the dance itself. It is as if she dances not alone on stage, but with all of nature as her partner, each move paired in exquisite synchrony.
Lightman balances fictional narratives and beautifully detailed explorations of natural processes with autobiographical essays on his own journey as a scientist.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Alan Lightman is a great writer and scientist, as well as a keen observer of human nature. Making science so accessible to non-scientists is a gift, and I loved how the essays... Read morePublished on August 4, 2013 by Babs
Overall the book is an excellent read. After reading the chapter on Progress I put these few words together to describe my impressions:
"Technology makes more and more... Read more
Alan Lightman beautifully expresses his deep passion for science and art, and all the magic that the chaos in between can bring. Read morePublished on December 1, 2008 by Albert