The Syme PapersBy Benjamin Markovits
Douglas Pitt is a man obsessed. Laughed at, mocked and dismissed at every turn, Pitt has spent the best part of an unremarkable academic career attempting to prove the genius of Samuel Highgate Syme (b 1794, Baltimore; soldier, geologist, inventor). After years of frustration, Pitt finally stumbles into the good fortune he hopes will make his name: he uncovers a manuscript written by a fledgling scientist which recounts a year in the company of the irrespresible Syme. Teeming with comic detail and fierce intelligence, The Syme Papers recreates a time when to question the world and the origin of creation was the greatest project a scientist could undertake. It is a novel of genius and failure; of a man who thought he could prove the world was hollow, and in the glorious process of discover, broke his own heart.