How would a creature limited to two dimensions be able to grasp the possibility of a third? Edwin A. Abbott's droll and delightful "romance of many dimensions" explores this conundrum in the experiences of his protagonist, A Square, whose linear world is invaded by an emissary Sphere bringing the gospel of the third dimension. Part geometry lesson, part social satire, this classic work of science fiction brilliantly succeeds in enlarging all readers' imaginations beyond the limits of their "respective dimensional prejudices."
This new edition begins with an introduction by Rosemary Jann that illuminates the social and intellectual context that produced the work and explains its relationship to the theological issues central to Abbott's career. It also provides the most extensive discussion to date of the class and gender issues raised by the text and of the debates over the limits of scientific and mathematical knowledge in which it participated.
Flatland's unique combination of astute social, philosophical, and mathematical observations with wit and humor can be read at many different levels, and will prove especially enjoyable to readers of Victorian literature and philosophy.
Flatland is one of the very few novels about math and philosophy that can appeal to almost any layperson. Published in 1880, this short fantasy takes us to a completely flat world of two physical dimensions where all the inhabitants are geometric shapes, and who think the planar world of length and width that they know is all there is. But one inhabitant discovers the existence of a third physical dimension, enabling him to finally grasp the concept of a fourth dimension. Watching our Flatland narrator, we begin to get an idea of the limitations of our own assumptions about reality, and we start to learn how to think about the confusing problem of higher dimensions. The book is also quite a funny satire on society and class distinctions of Victorian England.
What if there existed a world consisting of only two spatial dimensions? This mind-bending supposition is the jumping-off point for one of the literature's most celebrated oddities: the 1884 novella Flatland, one of the earliest instances of modern speculative fiction, and perhaps the only instance of mathematical satire.
In Flatland, a lowly square, whose polygonal betters exhibit more sides, discovers pathways to other worlds where, alas, thinking is as rigidly defined as in his own. Class structures, the position of women (who are but mere lines), and the stolidness of religious and political leaders are sent up with chilly aplomb.
Beloved by fans of science fiction, students of dimensional physics, and readers of Victorian literature, this belongs on the shelf of any serious home library.
From the Back Cover