"Shakespeare and the Dawn of Modern Science" (2010) Public

In the mid-sixteenth century, Nicholas Copernicus broke from the traditional view that the Earth rested immobile at the center of the Universe by placing the Sun there instead. As the Earth lost its privileged position, so did humankind, prompting a re-evaluation of all branches of learning in which humans considered themselves the center of attention. Shakespeare’s writing career began about a half-century after this revolution in worldview. The bard is knowledgeable in many different areas of learning and is oftentimes ahead of his contemporaries, yet his Canon appears to lack a coherent account of contemporary cosmological thinking. It is simply not credible that a poet of this stature could remain ignorant of the cultural impact that the New Astronomy was having in his lifetime –– or if he were not so ignorant that with all the literary devices at his command, he would refrain from addressing the topic. This book shows that contemporary astronomical theory theory was very much a part of Shakespeare's worldview, and in addition that that he had at his command celestial data that could be seen only with telescopic aid. This raises issues of the source of the information, and Chapter 7 suggests a solution.

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