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Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions [Paperback]

Edwin A. Abbott
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 21 1992 048627263X 978-0486272634 1
This masterpiece of science (and mathematical) fiction is a delightfully unique and highly entertaining satire that has charmed readers for more than 100 years. The work of English clergyman, educator and Shakespearean scholar Edwin A. Abbott (1838-1926), it describes the journeys of A. Square, a mathematician and resident of the two-dimensional Flatland, where women-thin, straight lines-are the lowliest of shapes, and where men may have any number of sides, depending on their social status.
Through strange occurrences that bring him into contact with a host of geometric forms, Square has adventures in Spaceland (three dimensions), Lineland (one dimension) and Pointland (no dimensions) and ultimately entertains thoughts of visiting a land of four dimensions—a revolutionary idea for which he is returned to his two-dimensional world. Charmingly illustrated by the author, Flatland is not only fascinating reading, it is still a first-rate fictional introduction to the concept of the multiple dimensions of space. "Instructive, entertaining, and stimulating to the imagination." — Mathematics Teacher.

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Product Description

About the Author

Fifty Years in the Flatland
2012 will mark the 50th anniversary in print with Dover of one of the most significant and influential books of the past century and a half. The mathematical, satirical, and religious allegory Flatland by a little-known but immensely prolific Victorian English schoolmaster and theologian Edwin Abbott Abbott, was first published anonymously in England in 1884 — Abbott wrote it under the name "A Square." The unique geometrical romance which is Flatland posited a world and its inhabitants that exist in only two dimensions and forces the reader captivated by the originality of this central idea to think deeply about the meaning of such a world. Generations of readers and students swept into the romance and fascination of geometry and other branches of mathematics and philosophy owe their introduction to this world to Flatland, which continues to entertain and stimulate new readers today, still going strong 126 years after the first edition was launched. Abbott revised the text somewhat for a second edition published just a few months after the first. Dover's 1952 edition was the first American reprinting of the amended second English edition and was published with a new Introduction by physicist Banesh Hoffmann.

From the Book:
"I CALL our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space. Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows — only hard and with luminous edges — and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said 'my universe': but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things."

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Stephen Pletko TOP 50 REVIEWER
In order to understand this twenty-two chapter book (first published in the mid-1880s) by Edwin A. Abbot (1838 to 1926), you have to understand what is meant by the word "dimension," a word in the book's subtitle "A Romance of Many Dimensions." A dimension is any measureable distance such as length or width. So something that has one dimension has only one measurable distance, something that has two dimensions has two measurable distances, and so on. You also have to realize that there are geometrical forms that can be drawn in these dimensions. Thus a line is such a form that only has one dimension, a triangle is such a form that has two dimensions that appears flat and non-solid, and a sphere is such a form in three dimensions that appears solid. (Another name for three dimensions is space.)
Part one (twelve chapters) of this book gives us a glimpse of the two-dimensional land where the narrator, Mr. "A. Square," comes from. This place, called "Flatland," is inhabitated by two-dimensional beings of which Square is one. These beings no nothing of "up" and "down." Square tells us details of Flatland society such as its resident's domestic life and its political turmoil. It is a place dominated by such things as a rigid social hierarchy, sexism, and closed-mindedness.
Abbot was a Victorian and his description of Flatland is meant to be a parody (using wry humor and biting satire) of English Victorian society. Abbot seems to have fun mocking the upper classes of the 1880s in his book. I found that much of what Abbot says can be applied to modern society.
As an example, Square tells us of the social hierarchy that exists: "Our women are straight lines.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Romance of Many Dimensions Jan. 26 2009
I read the product description, and the book interested me. For 2.25, why wouldn't I purchase it? For a book that I wasn't expecting much from, it certainly suprised me. It was interesting learning about the world in which the flatlanders, and other dimensional beings lived. Although to me there were obviously flaws in some of the things the author said, it was generally really well done. I for one was impressed, and it certainly made me think about how possible other dimensions would behave and move around. I would reccomend buying it if you were thinking about it. Its cheap enough, just go for it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions Jan. 6 2013
An odd book. This is the thought that dominated the back of my mind throughout the first half of the story. The second half really picks up and makes this a worthwhile read, and a strong teaching tool for people interested in physics and contemplating the ideas of other dimensions. It's quite an interesting book, one that's had a lasting impact, I think because of its ability to communicate a difficult idea for human to imagine.

I came across this book in a lecture about mathematics, as a suggestion to help listeners understand the idea of other dimensions. It was a great recommendation, as the book served this purpose. I've been studying physics on my own, casually, for a few years now, and this is the type of book that really helps me move along in my understanding. I'm not looking to learn everything, or become a physicist, but merely learn for interests sake and because much of the basics add to my understanding of life. In this respect, Flatland is a great read.

Parts of the book were difficult, not because they were hard, but they were a bit boring...maybe tedious concepts to grasp. Maybe it was the parts about societal standing that seemed to lack some, but several curious ideas rose out of this aspect to the story (one of which is the role of females and their similarity to higher status beings). I'm not sure in the language had anything to do with it, but it is possible. It's an easy read, but still a little removed from our own common use of English. The ending was powerful, however, and some of the concept explanations are very clear, and very easy to understand and potentially useful as review material. It's little wonder that this book has lasted so long.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A quite curious book Feb. 29 2004
I bought this book on a whim because it was so cheap, and I rather enjoyed it, despite it being a very short book. At the minute, it is circulating among my friends.
The first part deals with the social structure and mores of the flatland society. I've heard that it's a critique of the way life was set up when the book was written, but I can't confirm that. It describes a world where women are seen as worthless nobodies who are dangerous without really noticing, and where people are judged and placed in social classes based merely on their appearance (more specifically, how many sides they have).
The second part is why you should buy this book. It is the tale of what happens when one of the members of this two-dimensional society is taken and shown how life is lived in worlds of one, zero, and three dimensions. It is this part of the book which is absolutely fascinating, and convinced me that I will never be able to envision a fourth spatial dimension.
I highly recommend this book as a singular novelty, and a very good read.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars really fun little read
A short read (~90 pages) and well worth it. I stayed up late to finish it the day I started and quite enjoyed it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rob Mills
5.0 out of 5 stars A weird geometrical dream
I loved that book. It reads fast, and the story is strange and original: a 2-dimensional world in which inhabitants are geometrical shapes.
Published 6 months ago by Nicolas Blackburn
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious
I love this book, at the start I thought what is going on, but once I got a bit further into the book (so at about page 5) I didn't have a problem moving into the flatland world.
Published 15 months ago by Matt O'Rourke
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, mind teasing
Are you into geometry? Do you strictly not believe in the possibility of a metaphysical world? Are you looking for mind numbing possibilities? Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2012 by M. Abdul-Amir
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific!
This may be the greatest science fiction story of all time. I have read this story at least ten times and I never tire of it. Read more
Published on May 5 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars A valuable read culturally, but a literary mediocrity
Sometimes you look at a book and shake your head. From what I've heard, they did that when this book came out in the late 19th century. Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2004 by Brian Connors
4.0 out of 5 stars It will stretch your imagination
I just finished reading "Flatland" by Edwin A. Abbott and I'm not entirely sure what to think. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2004 by Kristin Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible and amazingly provocative. A page turner!
Abbott's imagination is just fantastic. And I say fantastic in the most realistic sense. He has so many amazing ideas and makes everything so believable, but also makes you... Read more
Published on Sept. 29 2003 by Adam Sachs
5.0 out of 5 stars Upward, not Northward
A. Square is a rather exceptional member of Flatland, a world that only has two dimensions. He not only dreams about a one-dimensional world, but also dares to question the... Read more
Published on July 22 2003 by Geert Daelemans
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