- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Arrow; New edition edition (29 Mar. 1984)
- ISBN-10: 0099339609
- ISBN-13: 978-0099339601
- Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 11 x 2.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,510,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Doctor Mirabilis Paperback – 29 Mar 1984
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As Blish tells in his preface, he captures the syntax and flavor of Middle English in passages where characters would have reverted to it rather than the French of court and diplomat, or the Latin of friars and scholars. The earlier chapters can take, therefore, a while to sink in as you adjust your mind to a different dialect, a different mode of expression. But this then allows you deeper immersion into the mentalities of the characters, often taken from real life chronicles, in an era where friars and inquisitors, kings and barons, heirs and bishops, all contended for the prizes that Church and State contended to control.
Blish expands the little we may know of Bacon's personal story and mixes in the ideas of his era. He captures what Paris and Oxford must have felt like as the universities grew larger and less tolerant. This makes a nice companion with Waddell for the scene since Abelard, and with Eco for the twist on the controversies that while shelved under philosophy or theology now back then drew partisans and protesters to take sides as vehemently as would Marxists or neo-cons in our own time.
Roger outwits his temporal masters, and he learns how to practice disguise. He inquires into alchemy and takes on Thomistic doctrines in the name of greater fidelity to innovation, even as he must rein in his own tendencies under an Order and Papacy who fear schism and heresy, as well it seems as any independence of thought. You find yourself eager to see who wins the Parisian disputation of Roger with Albertus Magnus, you watch as the chained mastiff at a decaying castle snarls as Roger talks with a forlorn noblewoman, you witness the interrogation of radicals by those in charge. You enter the prison cell where dissident friars seeking the apocalyptic reforms and Holy Poverty are jailed, and you are there, somehow, at this dogged English Franciscan's last moments.
For all its challenges, this book proved a valuable testimony to Blish's ability to make us care about the plight of an inquirer whose name now, if barely recalled, is shrouded in magic and hearsay. Blish separates what may well have happened, and he brings us as close to the what-if reality as we can come. Highly recommended for the undaunted reader willing to rise up to a level demanding attention and rewarding concentration.
It is perhaps no coincidence that James Blish's other masterpiece, "A Case of Conscience", set in the future, similarly treats a central character who is both a Jesuit and a scientist.
Try to find Doctor Mirabilis in a library. Booksellers are charging hundreds of dollars for the 1964 Faber hardback!
It is science fiction because it deals with a man who dares to envision a future changed by scientific discovery and technological innovation, in a time and a place where such thoughts are all but unimaginable ... and yet, because Blish so carefully yet unobtrusively grounds his work in superb historical research and recreation, it works perfectly.
It is a tragedy that this book is out of print.
[NOTE: DOCTOR MIRABILIS is the first volume of what Blish intended to be a trilogy under the general title AFTER SUCH KNOWLEDGE..., from the ancient question, "After such knowledge, what forgiveness"? The middle novel actually is two novels -- BLACK EASTER and THE DAY AFTER JUDGMENT, which are entertaining and disturbing but not quite up to the first and third novels in the sequence. The last novel in the trilogy is A CASE OF CONSCIENCE, every bit as magnificent as DOCTOR MIRABILIS. Some brillaint publisher should do an omnibus volume.]