Galileo and Literature
edited by Massimo Bucciantini
The aim of this call is to draw attention to two specific issues of historical, literary, and philosophical research. On the one hand, the objective is to explore how Galileo considered and used literature; on the other, to observe how past and current writers and intellectuals have tested and enriched their knowledge with Galileo’s teachings.
To what extent did Galileo cultivate his interest in literature and what kind of literature was he passionate about? How much did his attention to literary aspects affect his way of writing philosophical and scientific works? To what degree do the diffusion and success of a book depend on the literary and rhetorical choices made by its author? As Galileo leaves the known paths and the traditional certainties, he identifies “speech” and “digression” as the privileged space for the representation of a new way of thinking.
However, when we talk of “Galileo and literature”, we do not intend to limit our investigation to him. The horizon is much wider. In the past, many scholars have shown that Galileo’s discoveries have inundated and modified our image of literature in many different ways. In the 17th and following centuries, poets and intellectuals have been nourished in their works by the Italian scientist’s writings. How did it happen? To what degree has recalling Galileo made it possible to build a link between science and literature? John Donne and Giovan Battista Marino, and later Giacomo Leopardi, Ippolito Nievo, François Ponsard, or in the 20th century Bertolt Brecht, Primo Levi, Italo Calvino: they are the first names that may come to mind. But not the only ones. Just the best-known.
• Galileo as a reader of literature.
• Galileo’s use of words and literary forms in his writings
• Galileo as the “communicator” of the new science
• To what degree did Galileo’s celestial discoveries modify our image of literature?
• How present is Galileo in contemporary literature and what does it mean to refer to him as scientist and humanist?