Mazzotti's text is many things: well written, historically detailed, and descriptive. What stands out is his depiction of Maria Gaetana Agnesi as humble, kind, and mathematically talented.
A welcome contribution to both an understanding of Maria Agnesi and life in the 1700s.
A nuanced and well-documented historical narrative that restores to us a key personage in eighteenth-century science and spirituality, combining cultural and political history with the history of the family.
Mazzotti's book succeeds admirably in pushing beyond this summary judgment—the same that judges her curve 'insignificant'—to find in Agnesi's approach to mathematics a way to open a whole world of eighteenthcentury life and thought that supported her choices.
Mazzotti’s account of the rise and fall of a relatively non-gendered intellectual environment in the early eighteenth century thus sheds light on a rare instance in which the Catholic Church actually advocated women’s equality. The strangeness of that phenomenon alone renders his work an interesting addition to the history of science.
This book is both a life and a times; it will have many readers.
Mazzotti's treatment of her is by far the most sophisticated biography that we have of this fascinating woman... His book is a cultural history of mathematics at its best.
The overall result is micro-history at its best, and a history of mathematics that is narrated, as it always should be, through the broader history of the people and places that made this particular science what it is.
1. Engaging in a Conversation
3. Trees of Knowledge
5. A List of Books
6. Calculus for the Believer
7. A New Female Mind