Arts and Sciences
THE AGE OF WONDER:
How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science.
By Richard Holmes.
Pantheon. 552 pp. $40
Biographer Richard Holmes’s The Age of Wonder is one of those books that starts to look like essential background reading for just about everything: kids’ movies about mad explorers and balloonists, novels deconstructing the Frankenstein story, a trip to the dentist. Holmes describes the birth of professional science in England in the late 1700s and early 1800s, when explorers, astronomers, balloonists, and chemists cemented...