Flatland

Overview

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 naïve, respectable citizen who is faced with proof of the existence of three dimensions when he is visited by a sphere and is ...
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Overview

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 naïve, 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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631029601
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated

Meet the Author

Lila Marz Harper is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at Central Washington University.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Edwin Abbott: A Brief Chronology

A Note on the Text

Flatland

Appendix A: Contemporary Reviews

1. The Oxford Magazine (5 November 1884)
2. From The Literary World (14 November 1884)
3. The Exchange with The Athenaeum (November-December 1884)
4. The Architect (15 November 1884)
5. R.Tucker, Nature (27 November 1884)
6. New York Times (23 February 1885)
7. From the New York Tribune (6 March 1885)
8. Advertisement Run by Robert Brothers Publishers in The Literary World (21 March 1885)

Appendix B: Sources and Influences

1. From Benjamin Jowett's Translation of Plato's Republic (1871)
2. From Hermann von Helmholtz, "The Axioms of Geometry" (1870)
3. From Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80)
4. From C.H. Hinton, "What is the Fourth Dimension?" (1884)

Appendix C: Other Works by Abbott

1. From The Kernel and the Husk (1886)
2. From The Spirit on the Water: The Evolution of the Divine From the Human (1897)

Appendix D: The Influence of Flatland

1. From A.T. Schofield, Another World (1905)
2. From C.H. Hinton, The Fourth Dimension (1904)
3. From C.H. Hinton, An Episode of Flatland: or How a Plane Folk Discovered the Third Dimension (1907)

Appendix E: Mathematical Background

1. Macmillan's Catalog of Geometry Textbooks (1884)
2. From Euclid's Elements
3. The T.H. Huxley-J.J. Sylvester Debate (1869-77)

Select Bibliography

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