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The Annotated Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions Paperback – Jul 22 2008
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The product of an agreeably dotty cleric named Edwin Abbott Abbott and first published in 1884, Flatland distills all that the Victorian era knew of higher mathematics--and then some--into a witty, complex novel of ideas.
Ian Stewart, the author of the equally witty sequel, Flatterland--which adds to Abbott's store of science the key discoveries made since--does a superb job of explaining the original book's enigmas, allusions, ironies, implausibilities, and what Douglas Hofstadter would call "metamagical themas." Among other things, Stewart comments on Abbott's comments on such things as the nature/nurture controversy, the fourth dimension and beyond, the role of multidimensional spaces in economic systems, infinite series and perfect squares, celestial mechanics, and other matters close to the hearts of cosmologists and science buffs alike.
Stewart's notes make an entertaining and learned addition to an already classic bit of writing--one that has never been out of print since its first publication. For both devoted Abbott fans and newcomers to his work, this is the edition to have. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In The Annotated Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, Ian Stewart (Does God Play Dice?) introduces and explains Edwin A. Abbott's 1884 math-geek classic. Stewart, a mathematics professor at Britain's University of Warwick, discusses Abbott's milieu and friends (including George Eliot and H.G. Wells), Victorian literary conventions (e.g., his protagonist gains understanding of the three-dimensional world in a dream), the low social status of Flatlandian women, Abbott's class and political affiliations, and a host of other entertaining and enlightening tidbits. Photos and illus.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The purpose of this novel is two-fold: to introduce the casual reader into the concepts of multi-dimensional spaces (i.e. what will become the concept of four dimensional space-time) and to provide social commentary on Victorian society. I cannot comment much on what he achieves in terms of opening the eyes of the Victorian reader to the ills of that society; however, I find his ability to illuminate the concepts of dimensionality extra-ordinary. As a math and physics teacher, I am always looking for ways to open my students' minds to visualizing what they are doing. Even after well over 100 years, few people have approached Abbott's clarity in helping people visualize the difference between different dimensions. One of the best examples: a square only "looks" like a square to someone who can see in three dimensions. A square itself, trapped in a plane, would see another square (or, indeed, any figure) only as a line. This leads to intriguing thoughts on what creatures who live in higher dimensions than our own see as they look at us.
Of course, the story of Flatland alone is wonderful but Stewart's annotation and commentary take the book to another level. On nearly every page, Stewart offers insight and background into the text. Unable to resist the pun: he added another dimension to the book. Having read Flatland many years ago and enjoyed it, I felt I understood the book much better this time around with Stewart's help. Anyone with an interest in math and physics should not pass up the opportunity to read this edition of Flatland.
This book is a pleasure in so many ways. The quality of the paper and typesetting are exceptional, the layout is clear, the annotator is a talented writer, and the volume is generously augmented with photo reproductions and line drawings. Stewart's text is just wonderful. While the preface begins with a question: "What is Flatland and why should it be annotated?" and continues with Professor Stewart's reasoning and motivation in tackling this subject, the introduction focuses on Flatland's author, Edwin Abbott Abbott. Stewart is a fine writer and I learned a lot in both sections. But that is just an appetizer. Stewart states in the preface that his intellectual pursuit of all things Flatland led him down many paths and, taking his cue from long-time interesting thinker Martin Gardner, he lets the information flow. Annotations vary in length, from one paragraph to several pages, and cover a magnificent range of subjects, each made entertaining, informative and relevant.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Written over a hundred years ago, this book by Edwin A. Abbott is still by far the best introduction to the mathematics of many dimensions. Read morePublished on June 13 2004 by Jun Zhou Zhang
I understand this book was written by a mathematician and possesses a juvenalian look at Victorian satire- but this book is so much more!! Read morePublished on Sept. 8 2003 by Whirledtraveler
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