My Favorite Book of All Time

3 Jul

Seriously, this is my favorite book of all time.  I know, it’s old.  But it’s held up really well.



Now you must find the time to read it.  You MUST!

Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds (Hargreaves translation)

11 Responses to “My Favorite Book of All Time”

  1. sufiways July 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Très bon, TNND

  2. deecrowseer July 4, 2013 at 12:54 am #

    So, the Marquise was kinda like the Dana Scully of her day? Sounds good… and Fontenelle certainly deserves a hearty handshake for not only including such a substantial and intellectual female character in his book, but also marketing it towards women interested in science. It’s easy for defenders of bigoted historical figures to say they were “of their time”, but examples like this really put the lie to that defence!

    And as far as “relating science to normal people” goes, you’re continuing the tradition in grand style… so thanks for another enlightening video. 🙂

    P.S. Not to sound like a cheapskate, but I found the full text of this book is available for free via Google:,M2

    • Loren Riley July 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      Actually she does remind me of Scully! I wish I’d thought of that. Now I like her even more.

      I do think some bigotry ‘of their time’ occurs because the truth is so much more difficult to see. I read the craziest article a little while ago by a psychologist (or something like a psychologist… pretty sure it was a psychologist) who was also a woman, and she was writing in the late 1800s about the differences between men and women and she was talking about how women had such small brains and probably inherited their traits mostly from their mothers (I don’t think genetics was well understood right then) and her conclusion was that women had been bred to be inferior for so long that by inheritance, they would be inferior forever. It was pretty nuts. She was clearly intellectual and she was a woman (so she had a stake in the conclusion) but she only saw the surface; that once in a while a brilliant woman emerges but it was so uncommon that they must, by their very natures, be inferior (her words not mine).

      I think sometimes it does take a really insightful person to look around and not see what is, but what might be. Not to defend truly bigoted people or anything (I mean, there’s no excuse for it now) but I do tend to think people are trapped by time and damned by their ignorance and only constant vigilance can overcome both of those.

      Thanks for the compliment. Enlightening huh? That’s going to go to my head… 😀

      The Gunning (the one on Google) translation’s just not one of my favorites but I don’t think it’s a bad one. There are a few really bad translations out there though. The worst one was published around 1920 I think. If you see a 1920s version – RUN! You’ll think I’m crazy for loving this book if you read the 1920s version. Pretty sure it was a literal translation, so it’s not very coherent.

      • deecrowseer July 5, 2013 at 6:28 am #

        Yeah, I figured the free version would probably be an inferior translation, but I’m still finding it quite an amusing and charming read (I’ve only made it through the first evening so far!).

        Funny the main character should namedrop Molière, because when you were talking about “salonnières” I kept thinking of the film I’d seen about him, and the character Ludivine Sagnier played in that… so now I’m imagining her in the role of the Marquise too!

  3. W Ricci July 3, 2013 at 9:59 pm #


    • Loren Riley July 3, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

      No. 5 was killed in a tragic time traveling accident.

  4. authortombaldwin July 3, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    My favorite is actually 3 books. Jack Vance’s Lyonesse trilogy.

    Alas, Jack went on to that great pulp mill in the sky about 6 weeks ago so Lyonesse will remain his high water mark. It is some of the best fiction ever written.

    • Loren Riley July 3, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      That’s too bad. 😦

      What kind of fantasy is it? (Are there dragons in it?)

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