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Saturday, August 16, 2014


My latest book from the library is Heresy by SJ Parris (Stephanie Jane Merritt). It's an historical mystery about Giordano Bruno .....

an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, poet, and astrologer. He is celebrated for his cosmological theories, which went even further than the then-novel Copernican model: while supporting heliocentrism, Bruno also correctly proposed that the Sun was just another star moving in space, and claimed as well that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds, identified as planets orbiting other stars. Beginning in 1593, Bruno was tried for heresy by the Roman Inquisition on charges including denial of several core Catholic doctrines (including the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, and Transubstantiation). Bruno's pantheism was also a matter of grave concern. The Inquisition found him guilty, and in 1600 he was burned at the stake in Rome's Campo de' Fiori.

Here's the beginning of a review of the book in the Guardian ...

Stephanie Merritt's pseudonymous third novel opens as its hero, the philosopher and memory expert Giordano Bruno, is discovered reading Erasmus on the privy. Not such a crime, you might think. But the year is 1576 and Bruno is a Dominican friar at a monastery in Naples. Before you can say "No one expects the Italian inquisition", Bruno has dropped the book into the cesspit, fled the building and become a fugitive from religious justice – which is, of course, no justice at all.

Actually, these are true events. The historical Bruno ended up in Paris where he secured the patronage of some of France's most powerful men, notably King Henry III. In April 1583, he visited England for the first time. With his friend, the poet Philip Sidney, he travelled to Oxford, where he hoped to find a teaching post. Alas, his progressive views – he went beyond Copernicus in proposing an infinite universe containing solar systems similar to our own – led to accusations of heresy and necromancy, and he emerged bruised from a public dispute with the rector of Lincoln College, John Underhill.

Merritt uses Bruno's Oxford trip as the framework for an atmospheric and well-written historical thriller ....

I've just started it but so far it's pretty good :)


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