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Restoring the Mystery of the Rainbow: Literature's Refraction of Science. Villaria Tinkler-Vallani, C.C. Barfoot, editors. New York: Rodopi, 2011. 1106 pgs.

Many of the essays collected in this anthology are based on papers delivered at the 1999 Leiden October Conference at Leiden University in the Netherlands. John Cusatis's essay, however, was originally presented, in a slightly different form, at the 10th Annual Robinson Jeffers Association Conference in Carmel, California, in February 2004.

The publisher's synopsis of this two volume collection reads as follows:

"Keats’ misgivings about science unweaving the rainbow and robbing Nature of its mystery were shared by many of contemporaries, and successive generations have been compelled to ask how this rapidly escalating knowledge of the universe would affect their understanding of themselves and the world they lived in. This is the concern of most of the essays in these two volumes: how are we to live with science and the issues scientific discoveries and propositions raise? And how has this relationship with science been explored and expressed in literary works? Yet even before science became such a challenge to the imagination, an awareness of how people interact with the natural world – in terms of sickness and health, medicine, mathematics – had already been a literary subject, also reflected in a number of articles in Restoring the Mystery of the Rainbow: Literature’s Refraction of Science. In the twentieth century doubt became a crucial component of science as well as literature, and the relativism and uncertainty of quantum physics have proved fruitful to a wide range of dramatist, poets and novelists as many articles indicate. A systematic desire for objective criteria, verifiability, and conceptual frameworks has also increased the importance of methodology and of criticism: the many approaches adopted by the contributors to these volumes further point to the refraction of science in literature.

Signed Entry by John Cusatis:

"The Curious Desire of Knowing: Robinson Jeffers and the Poetry of Science"

Below is an excerpt from a review posted by The British Society for Literature ands Science:

Having spent the past 14 months reading, off and on, the two volumes of Restoring the Mystery of the Rainbow, my overall feeling is of gratitude to those scholars who, in contributing the 47 chapters of the book, have provided such a rich diversity of material. All of it is interesting, much of it insightful, and some of it truly inspiring. As a scientist with a strong interest in the possibilities offered by literary perspectives on science, I was thrilled, charmed, puzzled and infuriated in roughly equal measures by the material. Of course, as a scientist I am an outsider to the field of literature and science, and I felt very conscious of that when getting to grips with this book. But, in passing, I scurried off to read Graeme Gibson, A. S. Byatt, Robinson Jeffers, and many others in response to the chapters, and I have found the experience very rewarding. So that’s the first message: if you are not well versed in literature and science as an academic discipline, this book could be a useful introduction. -Nick Battey, University of Reading, School of Biological Sciences

To read the entire review visit the website of the British Society for Literature and Science

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