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Auricle by ventricle, Weiss--novelist-recording voice of Mozart, Rodin, Christopher Wren and others--has traced the story of William Harvey, the indefatigable investigator of the circulatory system who was sure that the heart was not an instrument ""understood by God alone."" We see him first as a student committing the foolhardy if not criminal act of saving a boy, Silas, hung by the neck. Through Silas, he will meet his sister Rachel--his longtime mistress and a refuge from his sharp-tongued wife Elizabeth. Harvey studied under Galileo; was one of the lesser consultants to Elizabeth the Queen worn down by ""the flux"" or rather the physics and baths to which she was submitted; attended Shakespeare in his later years; and finally became Physician Extraordinary to the King while never desisting from his studies of the circulatory system until, in 1628, he established that the heart is a pump and that blood is circulated from the arteries to the veins. . . . This is not as distended as some of Weiss' earlier works but the background and materia medica is far more substantial than the characters or the story itself. Or, for that matter, the prose which meets the eyes to uplift them: "". . . the heart is like England, an island created in a great sea by God Almighty, not as a punishment but as a grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1975
Publisher: Delacorte