Figuring explores the complexities of love and the human search for truth and meaning through the interconnected lives of several historical figures across four centuries.
Emanating from these lives are larger questions about the measure of a good life and what it means to leave a lasting mark of betterment on an imperfect world: Are achievement and acclaim enough for happiness? Is genius? Is love?
Weaving through the narrative is a set of peripheral figures - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Darwin, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Walt Whitman - and a tapestry of themes spanning music, feminism, the history of science, the rise and decline of religion, and how the intersection of astronomy, poetry, and Transcendentalist philosophy fomented the environmental movement.
An LA Times Book Prize Winner.
“The polymathic Popova, presiding genius behind brainpickings.org, looks at some of the forgotten heroes of science, art, and culture . . . she peppers thoughtful, lucid consideration of acts of the imagination with stories that, if ever aired before, are too little known . . .A lyrical work of intellectual history, one that Popova's many followers will await eagerly and that deserves to win her many more.” - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
[A] passionate and erudite pursuit of truth and beauty.” — Booklist - American Library Association - (starred review)