Figuring explores the complexities of love and the human search for truth and meaning through the interconnected lives of several historical figures across four centuries--beginning with the astronomer Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion, and ending with the marine biologist and author Rachel Carson, who catalyzed the environmental movement. Stretching between these figures is a cast of artists, writers, and scientists--mostly women, mostly queer--whose public contribution has risen out of their unclassifiable and often heartbreaking private relationships to change the way we understand, experience, and appreciate the universe. Among them are the astronomer Maria Mitchell, who paved the way for women in science; the sculptor Harriet Hosmer, who did the same in art; the journalist and literary critic Margaret Fuller, who sparked the feminist movement; and the poet Emily Dickinson.Emanating from these lives are larger questions about the measure of...
|Number of Pages||:||592 pages|
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Popova uses a seemingly tenuous thread to connect the biographies of several luminaries. When the last page was read I was in awe of what the author accomplished. I am definitely going to reread this.
Imagine standing inside of one of Gaudi's gravity models. You're eye-height with the small weights and fine lines that connect everything in small swoops of thin rope. There is a mystery as to what final shapes are intended and the strong sense of time: both the time it clearly took to create and clearly takes to absorb. It's a bit like trying to see Cassiopeia while floating between Schedar and Caph. Wait for it.
This book gives a tour of the constellations of lives full of fervor and when you ...more
Meh. An excellent curator and blogger, Maria Popova here stretches the nature of narrative beyond use. There are simply too many peripheral idea and sidebar points in the story she wants to tell.
I don’t really like to read biographies. Even at that, this book was not strictly a biography, but at its core it was three not very original biographies of three different women, Margret Fuller, Emily Dickerson, and Rachel Carson. I just can’t help but think that real biographers have covered those three people in more original depth in other sources than this author did.
The author quoted Virginia Woolf to the effect that we should be more focused on the poetry than the poet. I tend to agree w ...more
Figuring is a series of interconnected essays that flow not unlike Maria Popova's blog, brainpickings.org. It does not flow like a driven, focused narrative, and though that appears to be intentional, it was not a structure that delivered the book's message as strongly as it could have. Popova weaves the intellectual and personal biographies of several nineteenth-century women through fascinating details of time, place, and common relationships. She traces the intellectual lineages of these wome ...more
The first book by the author of the prominent blog Brain Pickings - Maria Popova. Maybe it will disrupt my already compiled reading list.
I read the prelude just now and it is exciting! :)
I was excited for this book for so long because I love the authors blog. I really wanted to like this book, but I just gave up about 30 percent of the way in. It is extremely hard to follow and quite a chore to read because there are too many people introduced in seemingly disparate threads. I would often end a chapter bewildered and out of energy.
I am giving this 2 stars instead of 1 because the research that went into this book is inspiring by itself.
michigan daily review to come -- but this was a dense beautiful read