The Science of Shakespeare: A New Look at the Playwright's Universe

William Shakespeare lived at a time when the medieval world a world of magic, astrology, witchcraft, and superstition of all kinds was just beginning to give way to modern ways of thinking Shakespeare and Galileo were born in the same year, and new ideas about the human body, the earth, and the universe at large were just starting to transform Western thought.William Shakespeare lived at a time when the medieval world a world of magic, astrology, witchcraft, and superstition of all kinds was just beginning to give way to modern ways of thinking Shakespeare and Galileo were born in the same year, and new ideas about the human body, the earth, and the universe at large were just starting to transform Western thought Shakespeare was not a scientist the word did not even exist in Elizabethan times but a handful of scholars are now examining Shakespeare s interest in the scientific discoveries of his time what he knew, when he knew it, and how he incorporated that knowledge into his work His plays, poems, and sonnets were not about science but they often reflect scientific ideas, and the carefully we look at those ideas the better we can appreciate the scope of Shakespeare s achievement A close reading of Shakespeare s works reveals the depth of his interest in the natural world Falk examines the world that the playwright and poet lived in, taking a close look at the science of his day exploring where and how that knowledge is reflected in Shakespeare s work He also delves into how other writers and artists of the period were influenced by the revolution in science unfolding around them a subject that has received little attention beyond specialized academic works Throughout the book Falk stops to ask what Shakespeare knew, and how it may have influenced his work Obviously, Shakespeare was not the Carl Sagan of the Elizabethan Age his first commitment was to his stagecraft, not to philosophy or science However, Falk argues that a close reading of Shakespeare s works reveals the depth of his interest in the natural world, and shows that he was conscious of the changing conception of the cosmos than we usually imagine Shakespeare s writing often reflects the scientific ideas of his time and the philosophical problems they were raising and the carefully we look at those ideas the better we can appreciate the scope of his achievement This book is aimed squarely at the lay reader those who enjoy Shakespeare s plays and poems for the joy of it, and armchair astronomers and historians who enjoy a trip back in time.
The Science of Shakespeare A New Look at the Playwright s Universe William Shakespeare lived at a time when the medieval world a world of magic astrology witchcraft and superstition of all kinds was just beginning to give way to modern ways of thinking Shakespeare

  • Title: The Science of Shakespeare: A New Look at the Playwright's Universe
  • Author: Dan Falk
  • ISBN: 9780864924186
  • Page: 341
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 1 thought on “The Science of Shakespeare: A New Look at the Playwright's Universe”

    1. I received a copy of this book for free through a First Reader Giveaway.As with all things Shakespeare, there's a lack of true "proof" for much of what the author is arguing, but he talks quite openly about that. The book is presented very clearly as a theory, and gives a fascinating overview of the world Shakespeare lived in, and the many theories and discoveries he could have encountered. I really enjoyed the depth given to the history of the time, and the care the author took in making clear [...]

    2. Unless you have a particular interest in astronomy, you might find there is too much science and too little Shakespeare in this book. Falk, a Canadian science journalist with two previous physics books under his belt, is at his best when weaving in on-the-ground tales of library and museum visits, or anecdotes about tracking down Shakespeare sites in Stratford and London. Especially delightful is his “time traveler’s walk” through London, in which he imagines twenty-first century trappings [...]

    3. Liking science, Shakespeare, and history this was a great read. The Science of Shakespeare is accessibly written with delightful asides as well. I received my copy from First Reads and have already passed it on to my sister.

    4. Around the time of Shakespeare there were two views of the solar system: the older view was Earth-centered (Ptolemaic), and the newer view was Sun-centered (Copernican). In The Science of Shakespeare, Dan Falk provides a wonderfully accessible history lesson explaining these two astronomical systems--how the Ptolemaic view dominated for so long and then was overtaken by the Copernican theory (roughly around the time Shakespeare wrote Hamlet). If Mr. Falk’s book had been solely, or even mostly, [...]

    5. Since I love reading anything by William Shakespeare, I had to give this book a go. With my love of stars, combined with science, I had to practically pull myself away just to do something, anything else needed to be done.The book literally covers the thought process of the plays, stars, science and many other things that had to do with William's life. He studied the stars through astrology, science as a whole. You actually learn more about his life and the things he done throughout his time. It [...]

    6. The first few chapters of this book provide a somewhat sustained look at the astronomical knowledge of Shakespeare's day. (I'm ignoring the dopey preface, because it's really best that way.) After that, things rather go off the rails, with a diffuse collection of essays ranging over literary criticism, Elizabethan medicine, and so on. Often it seems he can't find anything to talk about from Shakespeare, so we get some Marlowe or Jonson instead -- which I don't mind in theory, since I tend to thi [...]

    7. A solid and comprehensive study of the scientific history during the life of Shakespeare and how it may have influenced his work. Falk introduces many theories regarding the influence of science on the Bard and supports most while exposing the flaws of the rest. He freely admits that our knowledge of the man is limited, but provides us with the best evidence he can. I found it an enjoyable read for history buffs and Shakespeare fans.

    8. This is a very good overview of the impact of the scientific revolution on the Tudor Age. The question is always there. "How educated was Shakespeare" and "Who did he know, outside the world of Tudor/Jacobeantheater". Dan Falk takes you on an interesting tour of the science of the time and how it may be found in the plays of the Bard of Stratford.

    9. This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.25 of 5It's hard to believe anyone could possibly write anything new on Shakespeare.Considered by many to be the greatest writer who's ever lived (in the English language, at least), Shakespeare's works have been dissected by scholars and his life has been researched and studied by many who've spent a lifetime trying to learn more about this man. So what more can we get? Dan Falk takes a slightly different approach, exploring s [...]

    10. A hypothetical conversation between a young (“almost nine”) William and his father opens this book. The two comment on what may or may not be a new star in the sky, with the father asking his son to speak in Latin. This helps set the tone with regards to the science and the language of the day. Shakespeare lived in interesting times; surely the breakthroughs in scientific thought interested him? Dan Falk addresses this question to great effect, drawing from the work of other researchers but [...]

    11. Shakespeare and his works have been analyzed for centuries. With so much mystery surrounding the man, and such controversy surrounding his works and authorship, we dissect his works and pick a key theme to analyze. Some people argue about which play is best. Others look for themes of religion and politics in them and how they played a role in his life. Others analyze his individual characters and how they reflect his view of mankind. Author Dan Falk is no different in picking an element to explo [...]

    12. Shakespeare lived during a time of immense (though gradual) change, a change that took human beings from the magical thinking of the mediaeval period to the scientific inquiry of the modern age. Dan Falk examines how the new discoveries and ways of thinking influenced and informed Shakespeare's work. Focusing mainly on the work done in astronomy during this period beginning with Copernicus and extending through Galileo, who was contemporary with Shakespeare, Falk discusses how much Shakespeare m [...]

    13. What could have been better than hanging with William Shakespeare when the Scientific Revolution began/evolved? Or better yet watching his marvelous plays (stars, constellations, space) with the King/Queen setting in the balcony. Wow all the many researched historical theories & discoveries pieced together juxtaposed; oxymoron; methodical)? Is there a link between the 2, as the author tries to predict/show (hypotheses)? He kind of convinced me. What an awesome book cover, great illustration, [...]

    14. I really expected to love this book. It dovetailed perfectly with an exhibit I was researching on science in the time of Shakespeare, part of a series of exhibits curated at my university to commemorate 400 years since the death of Shakespeare. But I found it to be disjointed and frustrating: for one thing, it's written in a journalistic style, and often in the first person, which isn't what I came for. Many other books proved much more valuable including Brian Ogilvie's The Science of Describin [...]

    15. There are many ways to read Shakespeare: the author of this essay, research in the tragedies, comedies and relatively even in the sonnets, all of the various hypotheses to test his thesis and that is that Shakespeare, as well as a great writer and poet, was also a connoisseur of science and empirical research that took place during his time. Interesting, but if you are not experts on the subject and absolutely interested, this book might be slightly hard.Ci sono tanti modi di leggere Shakespeare [...]

    16. By all accounts, this topic should have fascinated me, but it took me absolutely forever to get through for some reason. I think it would have benefited from a little more focus. I was expecting a book purely about Elizabethan astronomy and Shakespeare's awareness of new astronomical developments, which is why I picked it up, but there was lots of stuff about medicine, philosophy, religion, etc that I was less interested in. Falk also repeats himself. A lot. The book could have been 100 pages sh [...]

    17. I enjoy reading the history of science and attend several Shakespeare plays each season, so this book played to my interests. I enjoyed the author's style and may look for his other books. Many of the science connections were insightful, others obvious and some seemed quite far fetched. However, I will be more aware for references at my next performance. One thing I noticed: I have not read Shakespeare since school (a long time ago) and hearing it performed is much better.

    18. Enthusiastic if not a touch irrigorous about the connection between fascinating science and the thing Shakespeare may have read, including some speculation over people the playwright could have met if right-place-right-time was taken to an extreme. Mostly the Copernican-Kepler decentering of the Ptolemiac cosmos, and all the dominoes that fell over the space of a couple decades (Shakespeare's lifespan being a close match for the beginning of a heliocentric modern Europe).

    19. Admittedly, the audience for this book is the niche group who watched Cosmos every Sunday this past spring and is constantly trolling about for live Shakespeare opportunities. Fortunately for Dan Falk, I am that niche audience that equally enjoyed both the discussions on the birth of Renaissance astronomy and Will's works.

    20. Falk demonstrates that Shakespeare was fully aware of the cutting edge developments in Renaissance science, especially Copernican astronomy, and that his elite patrons would expect him to incorporate this chic knowledge into his allegorical and figurative language, which is a nice reminder of the integration of science and the humanities we need to cultivate.

    21. I really enjoyed it. It was thought-provoking. However, it's not a "light" read. If you're not very familiar with Shakespeare's works, you might find the detailed analyses too much. There's also a lot of science in the book, but as a non-science major, I didn't find it too hard. If you don't like science OR Shakespeare, this isn't the book for you!

    22. Loved this! It was well-researched, entertaining, and illuminating (no pun intended). Even for a person who has no knowledge of astronomy, this book is easy to follow - no scholarly pretensions here. Great job on this, Dr. Falk. Stellar Canadian content.

    23. A new and refreshing look at the meaning of the plays of Shakespeare. A pity that the real writer -Francis Bacon- was not revealed as the true author which would have made the research done a good deal more meaningful.

    24. If you're a Shakespeare nut, definitely read this. It's an exploration of the Scientific Revolution and what the leading scientific theories of Shakespeare's day were, and how they were portrayed in his works.

    25. Featured on Science for the People show #288 on October 24, 2014, during an interview with author Dan Falk. scienceforthepeople/epi

    26. Interesting and informative in places. Have read much of this content elsewhere. Find his ruminations a bit far - fetched sometimes; still worth a read.

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