Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

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9780486200019: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

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About Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is an 1884 satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott. Writing pseudonymously as "A Square", the book used the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland to comment on the hierarchy of Victorian culture, but the novella's more enduring contribution is its examination of dimensions. Several films have been made from the story, including the feature film Flatland (2007). Other efforts have been short or experimental films, including one narrated by Dudley Moore and the short films Flatland: The Movie (2007) and Flatland 2: Sphereland (2012) starring Martin Sheen and Kristen Bell

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Review:

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.

From the Back Cover:

Flatland (1884) is an influential mathematical fantasy that simultaneously provides an introduction to non-Euclidean geometry and a satire on the Victorian class structure, issues of science and faith, and the role of women. A classic of early science fiction, the novel takes place in a world of two dimensions where all the characters are geometric shapes. The narrator, A Square, is a nave, respectable citizen who is faced with proof of the existence of three dimensions when he is visited by a sphere and is forced to see the limitations of his world.

The introduction to this Broadview Edition provides context for the book’s references to Victorian culture and religion, mathematical history, and the history of philosophy. The appendices contain contemporary reviews; extracts from the work of fellow mathematical fantasy writer/mathematician Charles Hinton; Hermann von Helmboltz’s “The Axioms of Geometry” (1870); and autobiographical passages from Abbott’s The Kernel and the Husk (1886).

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Edwin A. Abbott
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