Publication details [#7196]

Leane, Elizabeth. 2001. Knowing quanta: The ambiguous metaphors of popular physics. The Review of English Studies 52 (207) : 411–431. 21 pp.
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Article in journal
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In light of the recent return to prominence of popular science writing and the concomitant appropriations from this genre by novelists and playwrights, the preference of literary critics for two particular popularizations of quantum theory is explored: Gary Zukav's 'The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics' (1979) and Fritjof Capra's 'The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Physics and Eastern Mysticism' (1975). To correct the absence of critical analyses of this genre and literary critics' unawareness of the credentials of its authors, the role of anthropomorphic metaphor and analogy in these popularizations of quantum physics is examined. Capra's parallelist strategy, based largely on similes, is contrasted with Zukav's reliance on figurative language to avoid direct statements of implicit connections; Zukav's hidden comparisons use metaphor to claim identities, not similarities, and to obviate questions regarding the philosophical implications of quantum theory. (J. Hitchcock in LLBA 2002, vol. 36, n. 1)