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Figuring

Best Seller
Figuring by Maria Popova
Hardcover
Feb 05, 2019 | 592 Pages
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    Feb 05, 2019 | 592 Pages

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    Feb 05, 2019 | 592 Pages

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Praise

“[A] passionate and erudite pursuit of truth and beauty.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Intimate . . . timely . . . Figuring thunders along with a novelistic intensity, propelled by the organic drama of its extraordinary lives . . . It speaks to the quality of Popova’s own writing that it survives comparison with the literary giants of the last four centuries. Her wonderfully deft and sincere prose melts down the raw materials of heavy research into a coruscating flow of ideas, images, and insights that add skin and sinew to the bones of biographical fact to create a forward-looking history that’s both timely and timeless.” Vanity Fair

“Strange and lovely . . . [An] ambitious, challenging and somewhat category-defying book . . . fascinating . . . beautiful.” —The New York Times Book Review

“An intricate tapestry in which the lives of these women, and dozens of other scientific and literary figures, are woven together through threads of connection across four centuries . . . In Figuring, we are thrust into a waltz of exquisitely honed minds—most of them belonging to women, many of them sexually queer—all insisting on living to their fullest.” —The Washington Post

“Poignant . . . dynamic and engaging . . . Figuring, if anything, serves as a corrective to the male/straight school of historical writing, showcasing women who tried to live their own lives and create their own worlds in the face of dismissal and neglect. Finally, perhaps, women like Fuller, Mitchell, and Carson have found their best chronicler.”—Book and Film Globe

Figuring
is a love letter to scientists of the past, women whose lived have all too often been eclipsed. . . striking. . . profound. . . dizzying in its scope. . . inspirational. . . There is grandeur and beauty in this view of science. . . few have so fulsomely explored how science and poetry, love and learning, and affairs of the heart intertwine in a way that, even after more than 500 pages, leaves one trembling for more. But like other affairs of the heart, the joys of reading Popova’s prose are perhaps best experienced for oneself.” Science!

“Stunning in both its scope and execution. . . [Figuring] is a shiningly femme, revolutionary, and poetic piece of literature. . .”The Harvard Crimson

“Fans of polymath Maria Popova’s popular website, Brain Pickings, will find themselves right at home in Figuring, her audacious new work of intellectual history that focuses on the lives of a coterie of brilliant women.  . . Figuring invites the reader to engage with complex ideas and challenging personalities, unearthing a wealth of material for further reflection along the way.” —BookPage (starred review)

“Fascinating . . . Piecing together human truths and the remarkable details of these lives well-lived into an extraordinary mosaic of human existence, Figuring reveals our timeless interconnectedness, and the inevitable, although improbable, intersections of our lives in the vastness of the universe.” BookTrib

“A musical, poetic modern classic . . . especially fine and fresh . . . Among the most compelling biographical pages I have ever read, rendering me incapable of closing the book.” —The Irish Times

“The polymathic Popova, presiding genius behind brainpickings.org, looks at some of the forgotten heroes of science, art, and culture . . . she peppers thoughtful, lucid consideration of acts of the imagination with stories that, if ever aired before, are too little known . . . Throughout her complex, consistently stimulating narrative, the author blends biography, cultural criticism, and journalism to forge elegant connections: Dickinson feeds onto Carson, who looks back to Mitchell, who looks forward to Popova herself, and with plenty of milestones along the way . . . A lyrical work of intellectual history, one that Popova’s many followers will await eagerly and that deserves to win her many more.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A masterful weave of astronomy, social justice and human consciousness. It also contains age-old lessons for storytellers whose job is to bring new ideas to wide audiences.”Thrive Global

“A work of alchemy . . . In her hands, biography becomes liquid gold . . . Figuring is a dense and intricate read, but Popova’s writing is clear and simple, designed to draw people in. She doesn’t obfuscate for the sake of it. The complexity is earned, even necessary for the tapestry she’s creating . . . it’s full of wonder, emotion and love . . .” The Michigan Daily

“There is no one in American letters quite like Maria Popova . . . Through page after page of prose, I accompanied Maria Popova and her cast of characters until the larger picture came into focus. Looking into these lives was an invitation to look into my own, which seemed exactly Popova’s point. Those for whom deep reading and existential questioning are more pleasure than hardship will find this book good company.” —The Charleston Post and Courier 

Table Of Contents

0
1 only the dreamer wakes
2 to find dismooned among the stardust
3 what is lost and what is gained
4 of the infinite in the finite
5 to figure and transfigure
6 the much that calls for more
7 to brave the light of the world
8 that which exhausts and exalts
9 merely the beautiful
10 divided, indivisible
11 between sinew and spirit
12 between art and life
13 the banality of survival
14 shadowing the light of immortality
15 to gaze and turn away
16 from romance to reason
17 from terror to transcendence
18 unmastering
19 the heart’s circumference
20 bound by neither mind nor matter
21 in the darkness of being
22 searching for totality
23 into the unfathomed
24 where splendor dwells
25 to live and to vanish
26 between the scale of atoms and the scale of worlds
27 between the time of monarchs and the time of stars
28 tracing the thread of being
29 from shoreless seeds to stardust
acknowledgments
bibliography
index

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