Restoring the Mystery of the Rainbow (2 vols)

Literature’s Refraction of Science


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.