“Keats in Space”: a review of Richard Holmes’ _The Age of Wonder_
The Poetry Foundation has published a review of Richard Holmes’ The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and the Terror of Science, an exploration of the Romantic sensibility in science. Authored by Molly Young, the article characterizes Holmes’ book as “equal parts passionate history and head-shaking elegy—a recovery of a golden era and a subsequent burial of it.” Starting with Captain Cook’s voyage to Tahiti in 1768 and ending with Charles Babbage’s publication of Reflections on the Decline of Science in England in 1830, the book catalogues a number of Romantic explorer’s and scientists–from Humphry Davy to William and Caroline Herschel. The argument throughout, according to Young, is that Romantic poetry and science have two key attributes in common: a frenzy for discovery and a lack of specialization. It should come as no surprise, then, that “the Romantic imagination was inspired, not alienated, by scientific advances.”
In addition, Andrew Stauffer of The Hoarding has collected several other reviews of The Age of Wonder.