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Life of Galileo (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 27, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143105388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143105381
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The plot, though fictionalized, resembles the basic outline of Galileo's life - Galileo used a new invention, the telescope, to empirically validate the Copernican model of the solar system. The universe doesn't actually revolve around the Earth, the Earth is just another planet that revolves around the Sun. Members of the clericy object to this. Some don't accept it since it contradicts their reading of the bible, others accept it but don't want the people to know because it will undermine their understanding of the world.

If the basic structure of the universe isn't they way they've been told, what else might be different? Could people live differently? Is the rule of the Church, Kings, not divinely ruled either? These are just a couple of the conundrums the play gives you to think about and always with both sides making very strong cases.

It sounds a little didactic put this way but it's an entertaining play. Galileo is portrayed as an Earthy character. He likes good food and being able to do as he pleases.

Aside from Galileo the other characters are also very well drawn, his daughter Virginia, his pupil Andrea, Cosimo De Medici, Cardinal Barberini.

All in all it's a interesting read with a lot of food for thought. Brecht gives you both drama and ideas and he does so quite suavely. Highly recommended.
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"Life of Galileo" explores the difficulty of upturning dogmas that have in place for years - the ongoing battle between science and religion that hasn't ended even now, 400 years later (as Bill Nye would attest to with his recent novel Undeniable). Bertolt Brecht reflects on the strength - and weakness - of the human spirit in the face of these difficulties. His prose is easy to read and the science discussed is understandable to those with little to no science background. The play (according to some background research I did after reading it) stays relatively close to the truth of Galileo's life, in everything except his daughter Virginia.

Overall, a great read considering its implications today.
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The "Life of Galileo" made an excellent dramatic presentation for my AP Modern Euro History course to read. I would only advise that students take several roles (but be careful their multiple personas don't appear together in the same scene) because of the large cast of characters and that a teacher select only certain scenes from the play due to its length. The scenes with Cardinal Barberini make especially good read-aloud dramatizations.
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