Joseph K. Lane Collection
Thesis on Kepler's Somnium
This collection centers around the master's thesis of Joseph K. Lane, done at Columbia University in 1947. Mr. Lane's thesis was entitled "The Dream of Posthumous Work on Lunar Astronomy by Johann Kepler" and was the first English translation of Kepler's allegorical Somnium or "Dream". A copy of the thesis is in Folder 1.
Johann Kepler (1571-1630), German astronomer and mathematician, wrote the Somnium in 1609 while serving as court mathematician to Hapsburg Emperor Rudolp II in Prague. The plot of the Somnium concerns a man's imaginary voyage to the moon. Kepler uses this story as an allegory to reveal autobiographical information and to advance his ideas on planetary motion, astronomy, and physics. Between 1620 and 1630, Kepler added footnotes to explain the real meaning of his allegory. It was eventually published in Latin in 1634, four years after Kepler's death.
The Somnium has received increasing academic attention. Another Latin edition appeared in 1870 in Christian Frisch's set of Kepler's collected works, and it is this version which Mr. Lane translated. The original photocopy of Frisch's text from which Mr. Lane worked is in folder 2.
Columbia University English Professor Majorie Nicholson wrote several articles dealing with aspects of the Somnium in 1940. Reprints of these articles are in Folder 5. As a student of Professor Nicholson at Columbia, Joseph Lane was encouraged to do a translation of the Somnium for his master's thesis. The completed thesis was the first English translation. It was never published although correspondence dealing with an attempt to do so is in Folder 3.
Folder 4 contains correspondence from a researcher, Roy K. Marshall, who asked Mr. Lane's permission to use part of the Somnium translation in an anthology that he was compiling. Permission was granted by Mr. Lane.
At least two other translations have been done of the Somnium since Mr. Lane's initial work. The first published in 1965 and entitled Kepler's Dream: With Full Text and Notes of the Somnium Sive Astronomia Lunaris, Joseph Keleri by John Lear with translation by Patricia F. Lockwood. This pair of scholars also had articles on the Somnium in the "Saturday Review" of May 4, 1963. A copy of this issue is in Folder 5.
The second title published was Kepler's Somnium: The Dream, or Posthumous Work on Lunar Astronomy, translated, with commentary, by Edward Rosen in 1967. Both of these books were presented to Dallas Public Library by Mr. Lane and have been added to the Business and Technology Division
MA78.3 Joseph K. Lane Collection, Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division, Dallas Public Library
Detailed Description of the Collection