Crowded with Genius: Edinburgh, 1745-1789

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Harper Collins, 2009 M10 13 - 464 páginas

In the early eighteenth century, Edinburgh was a filthy backwater town synonymous with poverty and disease. Yet by century's end, it had become the marvel of modern Europe, home to the finest minds of the day and their breathtaking innovations in architecture, politics, science, the arts, and economics—all of which continue to echo loudly today.

Adam Smith penned The Wealth of Nations. James Boswell produced The Life of Samuel Johnson. Alongside them, pioneers such as David Hume, Robert Burns, James Hutton, and Sir Walter Scott transformed the way we understand our perceptions and feelings, sickness and health, relations between the sexes, the natural world, and the purpose of existence.

In Crowded with Genius, James Buchan beautifully reconstructs the intimate geographic scale and boundless intellectual milieu of Enlightenment Edinburgh. With the scholarship of a historian and the elegance of a novelist, he tells the story of the triumph of this unlikely town and the men whose vision brought it into being.

 

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Contenido

Auld Reekie
4
Charlies Year
51
4 The Philosophers Opera
85
5 Smaller Joys from Less Important Causes
119
The Thermometer of the Heart
141
Torrents of Wind
173
The Savage and the Shopkeeper
208
9 The Art of Dancing
241
Earth to Earth
272
The Man of Feeling
300
Epilogue
335
Notes
341
Index
415
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Página 272 - If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number'} No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
Página 83 - The intense view of these manifold contradictions and imperfections in human reason has so wrought upon me, and heated my brain, that I am ready to reject all belief and reasoning, and can look upon no opinion even as more probable or likely than another. Where am I, or what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to what condition shall I return? Whose favour shall I court, and whose anger must I dread? What beings surround me? and on whom have I any influence, or who have any influence...
Página 83 - I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends ; and when, after three or four hours...
Página 170 - I hope I shall not be deterred from detecting what I think a cheat by the menaces of a ruffian. " What would you have me retract ? I thought your book an imposture ; I think it an imposture still. For this opinion I have given my reasons to the public, which I here dare you to refute.
Página 411 - His person was strong and robust ; his manners rustic, not clownish — a sort of dignified plainness and simplicity, which received part of its effect, perhaps, from one's knowledge of his extraordinary talents. His features are represented in Mr. Nasmyth's picture ; but to me it conveys the idea that they are diminished, as if seen in perspective.
Página 223 - Every step and every movement of the multitude, even in what are termed enlightened ages, are made with equal blindness to the future; and nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action, but not the execution of any human design.

Acerca del autor (2009)

James Buchan is a novelist and critic. He is the author of The Persian Bride, a New York Times Notable Book, as well as Frozen Desire, an examination of money that received the Duff Cooper Prize. He has also won the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize. Buchan is a contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the New York Observer, and a former foreign correspondent for the Financial Times. He lives in Norfolk, England.

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