The new Russian Review arrived this afternoon, and it carried the announcement of my book, Izucheniya dlya istorii astronomii v Rossii v pervoi polovine devyatnatsatogo veka
Connoisseurs may please note the present Table of Contents
More metaphorically minded readers might enjoy the fact that the only available edition is now the Second, as the one listed above appeared only in a press run of ten and they’ve all [save one for my own use] been given away.
And as was said of Johannes Kepler by Arthur Koestler,
By the time he had finished with his notes to the second edition (which amount to approximately the same length as the original work) the old Kepler had demolished practically every point in the book of the young Kepler — except its subjective value to him as the starting point of his long journey, a vision which, though faulty in every detail, was “a dream of truth” : “inspired by a friendly God.” The book indeed contained the dreams, or germs, of most of his later discoveries — as byproducts of its erroneous central idea.
In later years, as the notes show, this idée fixe was intellectually neutralized by so many qualifications and reserves that it could do no harm to the working of his mind; while his irrational belief in its basic truth remained, emotionally, the motive power behind his achievements. The harnessing to a rational pursuit of the immense psychic energies derived from an irrational obsession seems to be another secret of genius, at least of genius of a certain type.
Update December 2014 My friend Oregon Biology Teacher of the Year Jean Eames introduced us, at an invitation-only event of Institute for Science, Engineering, and Public Policy event half a dozen years ago; I thanked the gentleman for breaking new ground in his account of Evariste Galois. Ah yes, the point. Mario Livio has a new book out, Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein.