Letters to Father: Suor Maria Celeste to Galileo, 1623-1633

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9780142437155: Letters to Father: Suor Maria Celeste to Galileo, 1623-1633

The fascinating letters of Galileo's eldest daughter to her father

Placed in a convent at the age of thirteen, Virginia Galilei, Galileo’s eldest daughter, wrote to her father continually. Now Dava Sobel has translated into English all 124 surviving letters that Virginia (renamed Suor Maria Celeste at the convent) wrote to Galileo. The letters span a dramatic decade that included the Thirty Years’ War, the bubonic plague, and the development of Galileo’s own universe-changing discoveries. Suor Maria Celeste’s letters touch on these events, but mostly they focus on details of everyday life that connect her and her father: descriptions of confections she sent to him; news of his estate, which she managed while he was on trial; a request for Galileo to fix the convent clock. Her prose reveals an exceptional woman and presents a memorable portrait of deep affection between a father and daughter.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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About the Author:

Dava Sobel is an award-winning former science writer for The New York Times. The author of the bestselling Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter, Sobel’s work has also appeared in Audubon, Discover, Life, and The New Yorker.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Most Illustrious and Beloved Lord Father,

As for the citron, which you commanded me, Sire, to make into candy, I have come up with only this little bit that I send you now, because I am afraid the fruit was not fresh enough for the confection to reach the state of perfection I would have liked, and indeed it did not turn out very well at all. Along with this I am sending you two baked pears for these festive days. But to present you with an even more special gift, I enclose a rose, which, as an extraordinary thing in this cold season, must be warmly welcomed by you. And all the more so since, together with the rose, you will be able to accept the thorns that represent the bitter suffering of our Lord; and also its green leaves, symbolizing the hope that we nurture (by virtue of this holy passion), of the reward that awaits us, after the brevity and darkness of the winter of the present life, when at last we will enter the clarity and happiness of the eternal spring of Heaven, which blessed God grants us by His mercy. And, ending here, I give you loving greetings, together with Suor Arcangela, and remind you, Sire, that both of us are all eagerness to hear the current state of your health. From San Matteo, the 19th of December 1625.

Most affectionate daughter, Suor M. Celeste

I am returning the tablecloth in which you wrapped the lamb you sent; and you, Sire have a pillowcase of ours, which we put over the shirts in the basket with the lid.

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