- Paperback: 96 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition (March 5 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571199976
- ISBN-13: 978-0571199976
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.8 x 20.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 91 g
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #345,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Proof: A Play Paperback – Mar 5 2001
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"Behold the Dreamers" is an unforgettable debut novel about a family's struggle to make a new life in America from author Imbolo Mbue. Learn more
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Twenty-five-year-old Catherine, who sacrificed college to care for her mentally ill father (once a brilliant, much-admired mathematician), is left in a kind of limbo after his death. Socially awkward and a bit of a shut-in, she is gruff with Hal, a former student who shows up even before the funeral wanting to root through the countless notebooks her father kept in the years of his decline, hoping to find mathematical gold. On the heels of his arrival comes Claire, Catherine's cosmopolitan, blandly successful, and pushy sister, with plans to sell their father's house and take Catherine (whom she's convinced has inherited a touch of their father's illness) with her back to New York. Catherine does not want to leave, and things become more complicated as she and Hal tentatively begin to develop a relationship. She gives him the key to a drawer in her father's desk, where the "gold" waits-in the form of a notebook filled with the most original and astonishing mathematical proof Hal has seen in years. Thrilled, he wants to take immediate steps to have the proof published in her father's name, until Catherine shocks both him and Claire by declaring that she is its author. Hal's harsh incredulity pushes Catherine into an indifferent funk, sorely disappointed by the insult of having to prove her honesty to a friend she had trusted. There is much to appeal to YAs in this Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play, which crackles with subtle wit while tackling large questions.
Emily Lloyd, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
After the death of her mathematical genius father, Catherine, who gave up her own study of mathematics to tend to him, claims that she is the author of a mathematical proof found in the attic among his unpublished, mostly incoherent notebooks by Hal, one of his former students. But what "proof" does Catherine have that she, and not her father, is the author? Her older sister, home to attend the funeral, doubts her claim and, in fact, doubts Catherine's own sanity. Hal, who has professional ambitions of his own, isn't exactly disinterested and may not be trustworthy; his sleeping with Catherine has also complicated the issue. The elusiveness of genius in general and the difficulty of a mathematical proof in particular here become metaphors for the uncertainties of love, trust, and personal integrity. This wonderful play has already won the Kesselring Prize for Auburn, also a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Proof's deft dialog, its careful structure, and the humanity of the central characters are themselves proof of a major new talent in the American theater. Strongly recommended for all drama collections. Robert W. Melton, Univ. of Kansas Libs., Lawrence
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
When Robert dies suddenly, Catherine's older sister, Claire, flies in to Chicago from New York for the funeral. Claire is an actuary who has paid the family's bills for years, but she has led a full and successful life apart from her father and sister. The two sisters have a series of bitter arguments about guilt, responsibility and Catherine's future. Complicating the mix is a fourth person, Harold Dobbs, Robert's former student, who is interested both in Robert's notes and in Catherine herself.
Auburn's play makes the point that higher mathematics is elegant and complex, but it is ultimately quantifiable. A proof either works or it does not. Life isn't like mathematics. It is messy, emotional and open-ended. As the characters interact (including the character of Robert in flashback), all of the pain and suffering that they have felt for years come to the surface. All four characters reveal their hopes, fears and regrets.
"Proof" has an intimacy and an intensity that is extremely powerful. How much does a child owe his or her sick parent? What responsibility do we have to ourselves? How do we handle the situations in life that have no clear-cut solutions? Since life is not mathematics, there are no answers to these questions. However, Auburn implies, it is in the nature of people to keep trying, even though there are never any guarantees that our efforts will bring us happiness, love or fulfillment.
I'm rarely one for reading plays in published form - it's an odd and fundamentally second-tier genre, no? Sort of like reading sheet music! But this book was nevertheless entertaining, moving and, at times, startling.
Although the story is ultimately a universal one, you might especially enjoy it if you are a fan of recreational mathematics or of stories about mathematicians - I am. Some of the recent splurge of fictionalized accounts include "Uncle Petros and the Goldbach Conjecture", "The Wild Numbers", and "The French Mathematician". They are great adjuncts to this story, sharing intimate looks at love, work, and insanity in the lives of those odd creatures - mathematicians. Of course the TRUE story of such a person and such an endeavor is that of Andrew Wiles' 1995 proof of the 350-years-old Fermat's theorem, described eloquently in Simon Singh's book, "Fermat's Enigma."
Notwithstanding that long reading list, "The Proof" stands alone as a powerful work and as, perhaps, the most human of them all. The mathematics of the play serves as an abstract but intriguing backdrop for the story itself, which is one of family, madness and self-discovery. The sparseness of the casting, with only four characters, adds to the elegance of the tale and doubtless allows a theatrical production to build elements of character and setting that are only imagined by the reader.
But go ahead and imagine. At 83 pages it will be, like any script, a quick read. Take the time to savor it.
Using four well drawn, three dimensional characters, Auburn paints a vivid portrait of a late mathemetician and his legacy of madness and genius. His youngest daughter may have inherited both as the play centers around identifying the authorship of a magnificent mathematical proof (which ends up being a brilliant use of Hitchcock's "McGuffin" rule).
Auburn creates a play filled with an excellent series of suprises, revelations and passionate debates. His narrative is well structured as it provides the actors with clear objectives and a variety of tactics to explore and enact, all engaging the audience's attention and energy.
Four of my friends recently produced the play and produced an evening of magic. A great theatrical experience demands a strong story to tell and Auburn provides such a vehicle with this, his Pulitzer Prize winning work.
A brilliant piece of writing. A must read for theatre fans and practitioners alike. A most producable work as well. It would make for a fine addition to any theatre season.
Want to see more reviews on this item?
Most recent customer reviews
Look for similar items by category