The Gold Bug Variations

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The Gold Bug Variations
RichardPowers TheGoldBugVariations.jpg
First edition
Author Richard Powers
CountryUnited States
Publisher William Morrow & Company
Publication date
August 1, 1991
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
ISBN 0-688-09891-6
OCLC 22665566
813/.54 20
LC Class PS3566.O92 G65 1991

The Gold Bug Variations is a novel by American writer Richard Powers, first released in 1991.


Plot introduction

The novel intertwines the discovery of the chemical structure of DNA with the musicality of Johann Sebastian Bach's harpsichord composition the Goldberg Variations. A similar theme is explored by Douglas Hofstadter in his 1979 book Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. The title also alludes to Edgar Allan Poe's 1843 short story "The Gold-Bug", which is also incorporated in the plot of the novel. [1]

The plot hinges on two love affairs: the first set in the 1950s, between two scientists intent on discovering the mysteries of DNA; the second in the 1980s, between two lovers who befriend the scientist featured in the novel's flashbacks.


The Gold Bug Variations has received the following awards:

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