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Doctor Copernicus (Revolutions Trilogy #1)

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  494 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
'Banville is superb ...there are not many historical novels of which it can be said that they illuminate both the time that forms their subject matter and the time in which they are read: Doctor Copernicus is among the very best of them' - "The Economist". The work of Nicholas Koppernigk, better known as Copernicus, shattered the medieval view of the universe and led to th ...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published October 12th 1993 by Vintage Books (first published 1976)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,108)
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Jul 29, 2015 Lorraine rated it it was amazing
This is an incredible book. It is superb. Banville shows himself to be a great master here -- a worthy disciple of Joyce. I'm not even kidding -- I seldom write praise like that. But he isn't Joycean, at least, not style wise so much. Which is good. It's not derivative. But it does remind me very strongly of Portrait, a bildungsroman written with inspiration, love and blood.

The prose is lovely, but that's not the end of it. Excellent narrative techniques too. More than that, the research done f
Mar 30, 2011 Trudy rated it it was ok
This book was a dismal view of life in the Renaissance and Copernicus's personal life. It is fictional, of course, developed from the few known details of his life (dates, places, relatives and who he might have studied with or under). The author makes Copernicus out to be a wimpy, tortured soul while inadequately portraying any development of genius, feeding the tired cliche' that a person of such extraordinary abilities could have any positive relationships or experiences. In the absence of an ...more
Nov 12, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
Another monumental dreamer who hunted down his vision regardless of the misery it caused him in his struggles with bigots and those in authority. It's funny how these people seem often to come in pairs: Kant and Schopenhauer, Copernicus and Kepler, Newton and Einstein, Freud and Jung, the first making the fundamental breakthrough and the second making important adjustments to the initial insight. Just a thought...
Jul 11, 2012 Margaret rated it really liked it
It seems that who suffers the most from Copernicus's essentially (but not actually) heliocentric view of the solar system is not the Church or any professor stuck in a Ptolemaic view of the solar system; instead, it is Nicolas Copernicus himself. He knows that this revelation will hurt people who have so little to feel important about and so he keeps it mostly to himself, not publishing his great book until he is near death. While the beauty of the creative connection he makes is clear to him an ...more
Oct 21, 2012 Tony rated it liked it
DR. COPERNICUS. (1976). John Banville. ***.
This is the first novel in what was to become a trilogy for Banville about the lives of three of the most significant scientists in the field of astronomy. I’m not sure that Banville had a trilogy in mind when he wrote this one, but that’s how it turned out. It’s one of his early novels, and it has its faults, but it does display his mastery of the English language. What immediately hits you while you read this fictionalized biography is the author’s a
Judy Mann
Nov 29, 2014 Judy Mann rated it did not like it
This was one of the lousiest books that I've read in a long long time.Absolute drek.The writing was completely indecipherable. I swear I felt like I needed a machete to get thru all the tangled up phrases and overgrown terminology to find out just what the hell this guy was trying to say.I learned nothing- less that nothing - about Copernicus. Except this- I learned that he was a really dull and boring guy-I learned that that he knew enough to hang onto his day job while daydreaming about the un ...more
Carolyn Stevens Shank
Dec 22, 2014 Carolyn Stevens Shank rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
John Banville has a better command of the English language than anyone I've read; -- his vocabulary can stymie the most devoted literature student. And, he is a brilliant writer. DOCTOR COPERICUS is Banville through and through, letter perfect. Banville writes not only about the life of Copericus, the father of astronomy, who puts the sun at the center of the Universe and moves man to the edge. His theories mark the end of the Age of Idealism. Banville's vision of the world is cruelly stark, an ...more
Michael Battaglia
Mar 09, 2014 Michael Battaglia rated it it was amazing
So you're taught from a young age that, clearly, everything in creation must revolve around the good ol' Earth because not only are our eyes not lying in seeing how the sun doesn't rise or set in the same spot but as the most important people ever in the history of Important Things it's quite obvious that we're the literal and metaphorical Center of Everything. That sounds pretty reasonable.

Then you read some other theories, look up at the sky again and do some other calculations and think "Wait
Jul 05, 2011 Ruben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gris como la Prusia del Baltico, una historia sombria sobre una mente brillante, supongo que asi era el inicio del renacimiento al norte de Italia. Mucho mas que una biografia de Copernico, es un vistazo a la historia de la epoca, las guerras entre Polonia y Alemania y la gran revolucion de Lutero contra el catolicismo. Muy interesante. Ve preparado a esta lectura, es cruda como la epoca.
Feb 15, 2015 Jimmy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like any Banville novel, "Doctor Copernicus" will leave you scribbling down passages and page numbers on whatever surface you can find. Banville's command of language is such that you feel the need to return to him repeatedly, to share him with others. His language does not require context either, so beautiful are his sentences, so perfectly can he distill the complex, the recondite, the truth.

And a book comprised of those sentences is always worth reading. "Doctor Copernicus," however, like "K
Jan 27, 2014 Tlaura rated it liked it
I enjoyed this better than Banville's book on Kepler because he (Banville) sticks a little closer to the real history to the extent it's known and because we actually know so little about the historical Copernicus, there is lots of room for interpretation that doesn't come off as a sloppy lack of research. Like in Kepler, Banville's heavy reliance on Arthur Koestler's The Sleepwalkers is the book's weakest link, not because The Sleepwalkers isn't great contrarian history (it is), but because muc ...more
Mar 15, 2008 Sunil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: word-wines, reviews
John Banville in this leg of trilogy of Revolutions paints a detailed sketch of Nicolas Copernicus- from his childhood to his long feeble death; his conflict in being a disciple of both the science and the church during the testing medievia in astonishingly sublime prose that only Banville is capable of.
European Douglas
Brilliantly illuminating retelling of the scientists life around his great heliocentric theories.
Manuel Antão
Mar 28, 2015 Manuel Antão rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
After reading "Kepler", I was very eager to tackle "Doctor Copernicus" and "The Newton Letter".

This year I decided that I'd start with a bang with "Doctor Copernicus". I've always believed in strong starts...

Drawing a parallel between "Kepler" and "Doctor Copernicus", they both have a very strong sense of architecture and style. I like to compare them with a very dark baroque cathedral, filled with elaborate passages and sometimes overwhelming to the casual tourist (aka reader). For this, Banvil
Jul 02, 2015 Nigel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A thing is pure and independent, the object and the idea of the object utterly united with no division and no corruption. Then comes language and the thing acquire a name and suddenly the idea of a tree and a tree itself are divided, and the idea becomes a separate thing to the thing it's supposed to describe. Thus Nicolas Copernicus, who has a bright vision of the motions of celestial bodies that will turn everything humanity has understood about the world on its head, that will eventually unmo ...more
dinni tresnadewi
Dec 28, 2012 dinni tresnadewi marked it as to-read
Membaca 1001 books to read before you die, agak kaget juga melihat nama John Banville muncul. Tapi setelah membaca (mendengar lebih tepatnya, karena saya mendapat versi audiobooknya) Doctor Copernicus, atribusi tersebut ternyata layak ia sandang.
Tadinya saya membaca Doctor Copernicus sebagai bahan referensi untuk menulis buku anak-anak, in the end, I ended up enjoying the book. John Banville punya bakat sebagai pencerita handal, buktinya kisah Copernicus tersampaikan dengan sangat alami dan ena
Jan 14, 2011 Frank rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish-authors
A fascinating fictional biography of the man who "came to reveal to a world wallowing in a stew of ignorance the secret music of the universe": Niclas Koppernigk, known to the world as Copernicus.

Copernicus was more than just an astronomer: as mathematician, physician, polyglot, classical scholar, translator, artist, Catholic cleric, jurist, governor, military leader, diplomat and economist he defined and shaped his most tumultuous age. And though astronomy was little more than an avocation, it
Jan 05, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
I liked this book immensely; it has been on my shelves for years, but Banville is reading at Brown toward the end of the month, and so I decided to work through my holdings.

He is a superb stylist and an extraordinarily observer/imaginer of human foibles. Even at this relatively early stage (1976), he shows wide reading and close attention to some of his Irish literary forebears like Joyce and Beckett. He acknowledges the research into and sources of Copernicus's life, but the off-center "helioce
J.K. George
Oct 26, 2015 J.K. George rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-books
I'm such a Banville fanatic that it's hard to press the "four star" button and not the "five." A wonderful and informative story about life in that era, when the Church was the judge and the jury, and any deviation from that, even by a supremely devout man, was dangerous. Somehow, Copernicus made it through. But at a significant cost.
Aug 18, 2011 Daryl rated it really liked it
To me, this novel is less about the heliocentric theory, and more about the price paid by the two brothers for their Apollonian vs. Dionysian lifestyles. That said, Banville is an excellent writer, able to create a setting in which you can lose yourself and, in this case, be informed again about resistance to change.
It was interesting to me that I was reminded of Hesse in the early going, and this hearkening back to one of my favorite authors only grew stronger as the novel progressed. Not a ma
Dec 07, 2013 Rose rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, reading-list
Nicolaus Koppernige is born, learns the names of things, loses his parents and is sent away. He fits badly in the world, not knowing how to behave or how to touch it, holding it at arms length, looking upwards for purity and the celestial music of the orbs. His brother meanwhile throws himself into the sordid sensuality of the world, a constant thorn in his brother's side. John Banville does not hesitate to inflict upon his historical protagonist the agonies one rarely imagines of genius that ha ...more
Mar 18, 2014 Michelle rated it did not like it
Shelves: historical
The life of Nicholas Copernicus, Catholic bishop (?) and astronomer who publicises the controversial theory that the sun is the centre of the solar system. Nicholas' mother dies at an early age, and after his father also dies he is cared for by a Bishop uncle, and lives alongside his fun-loving, malicious older brother.

Difficult although a short book.
Sep 16, 2014 Martha rated it it was ok
In Banville's book, the character of Copernicus gets lost in the baroque descriptions of the seamy side of life - enough suppurating, mewling, leering in this one book to fill a trilogy
William Gaule
Mar 18, 2015 William Gaule rated it it was amazing
Like all Banville's books it is beautifully written with sentences that you might want to say aloud. Well worth reading.
Nov 14, 2015 WJ rated it it was amazing
This and Kepler, the second of the trilogy, are two books that have always stuck in my mind as being something special.
Catherine Siemann
Jun 29, 2012 Catherine Siemann rated it liked it
I really liked the early portions of this book: Copernicus is clearly a very different, individual thinker, and his perceptions of things and people, his frequent in ability to understand them, as well as his joy in ideas, was fascinating. The later portions, especially the third section, narrated by "Rhetoricus", a young astronomer who tried to get him to publish, were frustrating -- not only because his narrative voice was less appealing, but because the historical fact that Copernicus hemmed ...more
Alberto Jacobo Baruqui
Estupenda obra! Soberbia y con destellos que divierten. Realmente es una joya. Está escrito de una forma magistral. Banville combina lo profundo y árido, con una dinámica alegre, dando como resultado un libro que no esperaba disfrutar tanto, ya que la temática es el desvanecimiento de la idea que se tenía de Dios y de la tierra como centro del Universo... una tarea nada fácil pero no para Banville.
Finalmente esta es una magistral novela histórica que es altamente recomendable para disfrutar y pa
Jun 28, 2013 Travelin rated it it was ok
Shelves: started
Another book I wish I could have finished, given an interesting subject. Mr. Banville seems like an altogether direct, hardworking man -- at least at one conference I visited, so it's not surprising but disappointing that he turns the early life of Copernicus into a melodrama full of profound moments of masturbation.

At least (I think), he didn't put the poor man in lipstick and a dress, as his people did not far from his statue in Poland's capital.
Apr 17, 2008 Stephen rated it really liked it
Wow - what a roller coaster. Language brilliant and obscure, at times impenetrable. Some of the characters are painful - I never wanted to see Andreas and was pleased when he departed for Italy. His return in the final pages was gruelling. Not too heavy about Copernicus' theory. I'm forward to reading some more Banville.
Oct 26, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it
A Rating of 4.6. Weaving what little is known about his life, John Banville tells the story of the life of the man who gave re-birth to
the heliocentric theory. Banville gives us a Copernicus who lived a
hard scrabble life right till his death. Looking forward to reading the
other two books in the trilogy.
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Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. His father worked in a garage and died when Banville was in his early thirties; his mother was a housewife. He is the youngest of three siblings; his older brother Vincent is also a novelist and has written under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. His sister Vonnie Banville-Evans has written both a children's novel and a reminiscence of growing up ...more
More about John Banville...

Other Books in the Series

Revolutions Trilogy (4 books)
  • Kepler  (Revolutions Trilogy, #2)
  • The Newton Letter  (Revolutions Trilogy, #3)
  • The Revolutions Trilogy

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“At first it had no name. It was the thing itself, the vivid thing. It was his friend. On windy days it danced, demented, waving wild arms, or in the silence of evening drowsed and dreamed, swaying in the blue, goldeny air. Even at night it did not go away. Wrapped in his truckle bed, he could hear it stirring darkly outside in the dark, all the long night long. There were others, nearer to him, more vivid still than this, that came and went, talking, but they were wholly familiar, almost a part of himself, while it, steadfast and aloof, belonged to the mysterious outside, to the wind and the weather and the goldeny blue air. It was a part of the world, and yet it was his friend.
Look, Nicolas, look! See the big tree!
Tree. That was its name. And also: the linden. They were nice words. He had known them a long time before he knew what they meant. They did not mean themselves, they were nothing in themselves, they meant the dancing singing thing outside. In wind, in silence, at night, in the changing air, it changed and yet it was changelessly the tree, the linden tree. That was strange.
The wind blew on the day that he left, and everything waved and waved. The linden tree waved. Goodbye!”
“When you have once seen the chaos, you must make some thing to set between yourself and that terrible sight; and so you make a mirror, thinking that it shall be reflected the reality of the world; but then you understand that the mirror reflects only appearances, and that reality is somewhere else, off behind the mirror; and then you remember that behind the mirror there is only the chaos.” 1 likes
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