October 31, 2006
Bodanis on Passionate Minds
My British pal David Bodanis has a new book out: Passionate Minds. Why do I feel as if I've been going to weekly book launch parties lately.....whatever he is doing in London is too far to jump on a plane for, as much as I miss my old haunt.
Passionate Minds gives a feel for the extraordinary life of Emilie du Châtelet, 18th century fencer and gambler; partner with Voltaire; brilliant scientist.... David recently sent me a snippet from the book worth sharing. It reminded me of why and how he could write a book like this one. The only thing missing is hearing him read a poem or two. For another time.....
... They rode to an inn outside the city walls, they had chicken cooked in wine, there were candles everywhere, and Emilie raced in conversation, faster than anyone Voltaire had ever met, eyes sparkling as she teased and leapt against his words. This was special. He’d never even had a male friend like this, so what kind God had created this delightful woman, still just 27?
Voltaire kept it a secret at first. To the mutual friend who’d brought Emilie, he merely wrote a polite thank you for the evening. But he and Emilie had become lovers almost immediately, and just a few weeks later he wrote a poem for Emilie, telling what he now felt:
…Why did you only reach me so late?
What happened to my life before?
I hunted for love, but found only mirages
I found only the shadow of our pleasure.
You are a delight
You are tender
What pleasure I find in your arms
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