From The Telegraph:
Romantic science? Did not William Blake fulminate against ‘Bacon and Newton sheathed in dismal steel, their terrors hanging like iron scourges over Albion’? Didn’t John Keats say that Newtonian optics had unwoven the magic of the rainbow? Isn’t the great Romantic-Gothic novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, an indictment of science’s hubristic capacity to destroy us all, a prophecy of the time we are now nearing, when a human clone fashioned in the laboratory will turn against its creator?
It is this story of the opposition between the Romantic poets and the science of their time that Richard Holmes sets out to undo. No one could be better qualified for the task than the biographer of the two Romantics who showed most interest in science, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Building on a generation of revisionist scholarship that has been barely visible beyond the groves of academe, Holmes triumphantly shows that the Romantic age was one of symbiosis rather than opposition, in which scientists such as Sir Humphry Davy were also poets and poets such as Coleridge had a shaping influence on scientists – we discover indeed that it was Coleridge who was responsible for the early 19th-century invention of the term ‘scientist’ as an alternative to the older nomenclature ‘natural philosopher’.