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Was the sacrifice worthwhile?

The Goddess of Small Victories

Title: The Goddess of Small Victories
By: Yannick Grannec

If you are interested in 20th century intellectual history, math and science, the ideas circulating during the period between the two World Wars, and the roles played by women in that era, this may be the book for you. It’s also the book for you if you ever wondered what it might be like to be inside the mind of a genius, or to live with one. I suggest reading it when you can immerse yourself, to stay with the atmosphere and exposition of ideas.

Grannec has taken her love and respect for the great minds of the last century, in particular Gödel, Einstein, and their friends, and crafted a very interesting fiction. She introduces us to Gödel’s widow Adele, at the end of her life, in dialogue with a fictional young woman, Anna. The chapters alternate between Adele’s old age and her past life with Kurt Gödel. Grannec explores Gödel’s relationship with his wife, his developing mental illness, and his friendships, interspersed with glimpses of real events and discoveries. The footnotes are worth reading, too. The math and physics theorems are explained in a conceptual manner that makes them easy to grasp; what’s harder to grapple with is how Adele could manage to live with Gödel for so long without going mad herself.

"Adele had accepted her own mission: her God had created her to keep a certain genius from slipping away before his time. She had been compost for the sublime: the flesh, blood, hairs, and shit without which the mind cannot exist."

The lingering question: was her sacrifice worthwhile?

View similarly tagged posts: fiction

Posted on Dec. 27, 2014 at 12:36 a.m.

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