Schrödinger in Dublin
Ever since discovering as a science student that the Nobel-prize-winning physicist Erwin Schrödinger spent seventeen years in Ireland from 1939 to 1956, Michael Foley has been fascinated by this encounter between a sexually promiscuous much-travelled polymath and a backward, insular Catholic country.
When researching Schrödinger, he was surprised to discover that he had many ideas and interests in common with Schrödinger (though not the womanising), including a disregard for discipline boundaries (Schrödinger won his Nobel for quantum physics but also worked on cosmology and microbiology), and an interest in poetry and Eastern philosophy.
But Foley’s conclusive discovery was that Schrödinger knew the Irish writers, Flann O’Brien and Patrick Kavanagh, both of whom Foley has always loved. The possibility that he could give a voice to Schrödinger made attempting the novel Schrödinger in Dublin exciting, and the opportunity to have O’Brien and Kavanagh as major characters made it irresistible.
One of the novel’s strong points is showing the Irish dilemma during WWII: having to choose between two ‘enemies’, the British and the Nazis from an emphatic point of view.
This is a novel not only about quantum mechanics but about life itself. Dublin is put under a spotlight through Schrödinger’s foreign eyes. His philosophical observations are spot on, and his constant questioning of issues is a lovely and scientifically inspired aspect of the story. A gripping novel with a poignant ending.