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women's studies
Emilie du Chatelet: Daring Genius of the Enlightenment
 
 
Author
Judith P. Zinsser.
Publisher Penguin  
Format paperback
ISBN 9780143112686
Pages/Publication Date 376/2006
Daedalus Item Code 02064
This item is not available.
Description
Portrayed in David Bodanis's Passionate Minds as the lover and intellectual equal of Voltaire, involved in an emotional affair that inspired and facilitated his career, Gabrielle Émilie le Tonnelier de Breteuil, the Marquise Du Châtelet (1706–1749), is portrayed here in the context of her own career. Married at 18, bearing several children, and fully partaking of the distractions of the aristocracy, at 27 Du Châtelet was nonetheless freed by her wealth and status to pursue the life of the mind that Voltaire opened to her. She developed swiftly into an accomplished mathematician, physicist, translator, and author of original works of philosophy and science and, toward the end of her relatively short life, raced to complete her translation and commentary on Newton's Principia.

"In the more conventional role, [Du Châtelet] had a successful pragmatic marriage; bore several children: worked tirelessly to advance her family; loved fine things; and was frequently among the party-loving courtiers at Versailles. In the less conventional role, she became the mistress of Voltaire (itself a full-time job) and, partly to keep him out of trouble, retired with him from society and devoted herself to intellectual pursuits.... She died in her 40s, shortly after giving birth, the result of an affair with a new, much younger lover. [Judith] Zinsser's biography will be appreciated by serious readers interested in the history of science during the Enlightenment and in the lives of women who defied contemporary expectations about what their proper role should be."—Booklist

 
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