Reading guide for Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Galileo's Daughter

A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love

by Dava Sobel

Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel X
Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 1999, 448 pages

    Paperback:
    Oct 2000, 432 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. What impressions or ideas did you have about Galileo before reading Sobels book? Did the book change any of your opinions, and if so, how?

  2. In what ways did the insertion of the full-length letters of Suor Maria Celeste, and the excerpts from the Rule of Saint Clare and the testimony from Galileo's trial, affect the narrative flow of the story?

  3. If you have ever carried on an in-depth correspondence with a friend or family member, compare that experience to keeping in touch by telephone or e-mail. Is long-hand letter writing becoming a lost art?<

  4. How would you characterize Galileo's behavior as a father to each of his children? Was Galileo's relationship with Suor Maria Celeste an ideal father-daughter relationship?

  5. What part did Galileo's frequent bouts of illness play in his personal and professional decisions?

  6. Which aspects of convent life at San Matteo were most surprising or disturbing?

  7. Who are the heroic figures in the story? Was Castelli a hero? Signor Geri? Suor Luisa?

  8. Which arguments did Galileo employ to reconcile his scientific discoveries with his religious beliefs? How do these compare with the current stance of the relationship between science and religion?

  9. How do you think Galileo would react to the news that pope John Paul II had called for a reexamination of his affair?

  10. Given the suggestion in one of Suor Maria Celestes letters that she wrote out the final manuscript for Galileo's Dialogue, how do you imagine the two of them might have worked together? How do you think each of them expected the final product to be received?

  11. Censorship constituted a routine part of the publication process of the 17th century. What part does it play today?

  12. For what crimes or infractions was Galileo brought to trial? Did his accusers see him as truly a heretic or merely disobedient?

  13. Viewed in this age of televised court cases, what did you think of the legal process of Galileo's trial?

  14. Why did Galileo abjure his belief in the Copernican system? What do you think would have happened to him and his family if he had refused to abjure?

  15. Can Galileo's arguments in defense of the Copernican model of the universe be applied to recent debates about the teaching of evolution in the classroom?

  16. Which scientific ideas of Galileo's turned out to be wrong? How could incorrect assumptions lead him in the right direction for establishing modern science?

  17. Is it possible for us to look at the culture of the 16th century its class system, the options available for women, commonly held views on how diseases are spread without imposing a 21st century perspective?

  18. Can you see any similarities between the 17th-century reaction to the bubonic plague and modern responses to the AIDS epidemic in terms of popular superstitions, medical treatments or government intervention?

  19. Galileo believed that the Bible was a book about how to go to heaven not how heaven goes. Do you agree with him?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Penguin. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.25 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: We Had to Remove This Post
    We Had to Remove This Post
    by Hanna Bervoets
    It's not about money. Kayleigh, the protagonist and narrator of We Had to Remove This Post, a newly ...
  • Book Jacket: River of the Gods
    River of the Gods
    by Candice Millard
    The Nile River has provided vital resources for millennia, serving as a source of water, food and ...
  • Book Jacket: Horse
    Horse
    by Geraldine Brooks
    Geraldine Brooks creates a powerful backstory for 19th-century thoroughbred racehorse Lexington, ...
  • Book Jacket: Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
    Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
    by Alison Espach
    Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance will make you ache for a loss you didn't experience as you relate...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Hamnet
by Maggie O'Farrell
"Of all the stories...about Shakespeare’s life, [Hamnet] is so gorgeously written that it transports you."
The Boston Globe

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    One's Company
    by Ashley Hutson

    For readers of Ottessa Moshfegh this fearless debut chronicles one woman's escape into a world of obsessive imagination.

  • Book Jacket

    Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden
    by Zhuqing Li

    A beautifully woven family memoir that coalesces into a vivid history of two very different Chinas.

Win This Book!
Win Where the Crawdads Sing

Win a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing

In celebration of the movie release on July 15, we have three signed copies to give away.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T O Thing W H T F I F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.