Nebulous History and the Plurality of Worlds

  • Ben CarverEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture book series (PNWC)


The interpretation of nebulae as worlds in formation, implying the non-uniqueness of our planet, provoked theological anxieties about salvation and creation. In this chapter I show how the limited power of telescopes to penetrate nebulae and other areas of the heavens stimulated the imagination to fabulate other, still-invisible worlds, and that when spectrum analysis revealed equivalent chemical constitution in space as on Earth , the existence of variant, counterpart worlds seemed materially plausible. In the astronomical writing by Thomas Chalmers , William Whewell , Thomas De Quincey , Richard Proctor , and Camille Flammarion , positions in the plurality debate reflect on the relationship between historical knowledge and astronomy . The multiverse speculations of Friedrich Nietzsche and Louis Auguste Blanqui are means to critique what they see as the historical complacency of bourgeois scientific culture.


astronomyAstronomy Plural Argument Blanqui Nebulanebula Camille Flammarion 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishFalmouth UniversityPenrynUK

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