Just finished reading John Banville's novel Kepler. I've had it lying around since sometime in the 1990s, when I bought it along with its companion Copernicus. I remember racing through Doctor Copernicus, but putting Kepler down after fifty pages. I picked it up again because I have been (vaguely) thinking about texts for my Imagining Science course next spring. I got through it this time, but the last third of the novel is a mess. Banville jumps around in time throughout the narrative, mixing Kepler's memories into the chronology of the plot, & for most of the novel this technique works to create a subtle portrait of the proto-scientist. Almost exactly two-thirds of the way through the third-person narrative, Banville inserts a series of imagined letters from Kepler to significant figures in his life. The letters provide a psychologically & emotionally affecting first-person view of Kepler's personality. It is after the series of letters that things go wrong with the narrative. Banville seems in a great hurry to finish & the jumble of chronological narrative & flashbacks becomes increasingly difficult to follow. These problems are compounded by an obscurantist overflow of 17th century European historical & religious detail. Still, the portrait of Kepler that emerges is subtle & difficult -- Banville's novel gives the reader a difficult & conflicted character, a man hanging between mysticism & science who is lively & self-aware in a nearly modern sense. Kepler, in Banville's story, is also one of the geniuses of muttering & mumbling, always speaking to himself, or under his breath, or half-articulating second thoughts, a man both drawn to & terrified of political power -- in this way fantastically modern. It is far too difficult & flawed a book to ask undergraduatges to read, but I'm glad I had another go at it.