Flatland: An Edition with Notes and Commentary

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Overview

Flatland, Edwin Abbott Abbott’s story of a two-dimensional universe, as told by one of its inhabitants who is introduced to the mysteries of three-dimensional space, has enjoyed an enduring popularity from the time of its publication in 1884. This fully annotated edition enables the modern-day reader to understand and appreciate the many “dimensions” of this classic satire. Mathematical notes and illustrations enhance the usefulness of Flatland as an elementary introduction to higher-dimensional geometry. Historical notes show connections to late-Victorian England and to classical Greece. Citations from Abbott’s other writings as well as the works of Plato and Aristotle serve to interpret the text. Commentary on language and literary style includes numerous definitions of obscure words. An appendix gives a comprehensive account of the life and work of Flatland’s remarkable author.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is all good fun, and the authors point out much that we readers would probably otherwise miss…. This annotated version of Flatland is clearly designed to be enjoyed by a very wide audience. … Readers of this edition will become more familiar with Edwin A. Abbott the person. The multitude of notes explaining, among other things, Abbott’s wordplay, his grasp of classical Greek culture, and his critical views of Victorian society makes us almost feel like we are having a conversation with him…. I highly recommend this edition. Abbott’s story can be enjoyed by those with a taste for any combination of mathematics, linguistics, social commentary, history, philosophy, religion, and faith. Lindgren and Banchoff’s notes and commentary deepen the enjoyment of these many dimensions of Abbott’s creation."
David A. Huckaby, MAA Reviews

"There (have been) lots of new editions (of Flatland) and further interpretations of the original. But the book presented here is something totally new. … The book can be highly recommended, it is a must for all admirers of Flatland."
Karin Reich, Zentralblatt MATH

"Flatland should be in every mathematics collection, and this is the definitive edition. Outstanding Academic Title."
C. A. Gorini, Maharishi University of Management, Choice Magazine

"With their informative notes, Banchoff and Lindgren add immeasurably to the text. In addition to explanations of arcane terminology and of the mathematics involved, they provide the background necessary to understand the book in the context of Victorian England. It is a period during which entrenched ideas, both social and scientific, were undergoing dramatic metamorphosis. Banchoff and Lindgren’s comments on Abbott and his milieu allow the reader to comprehend this fascinating turning point in history. ... The plethora of fascinating background information and detail will make you appreciate the book at a much deeper level."
American Scientist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521769884
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/31/2009
  • Series: Spectrum Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

William F. Lindgren is a Professor of Mathematics at Slippery Rock University. He is the author of Quasi-Uniform Spaces (1982) with Peter Fletcher and has given many talks about Flatland at various conferences, including the Joint Meetings of the AMS/MAA.

Thomas F. Banchoff is a Professor of Mathematics at Brown University. He is the author of Beyond the Third Dimension and Linear Algebra Through Geometry (with John Wermer) and the editor of a reprint of Henry P. Manning's The Fourth Dimension Simply Explained.

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Table of Contents

Introduction William F. Lindgren and Thomas F. Banchoff; Part I. This World: 1. Of the nature of Flatland; 2. Of the climate and houses in Flatland; 3. Concerning the inhabitants of Flatland; 4. Concerning the women; 5. Of our methods of recognizing one another; 6. Of recognition by sight; 7. Concerning irregular figures; 8. Of the ancient practice of painting; 9. Of the universal colour bill; 10. Of the suppression of the chromatic sedition; 11. Concerning our priests; 12. Of the doctrine of our priests; Part II. Other Worlds: 13. How I had a vision of Lineland; 14. How in my vision I endeavoured to explain the nature of Flatland, but could not; 15. Concerning a stranger from Spaceland; 16. How the stranger vainly endeavoured to reveal to me in words the mysteries of Spaceland; 17. How the sphere, having in vain tried words, resorted to deeds; 18. How I came to Spaceland and what I saw there; 19. How, though the sphere showed me other mysteries of Spaceland, I still desired more, and what came of it; 20. How the sphere encouraged me in a vision; 21. How I tried to teach the theory of three dimensions to my grandson, and with what success; 22. How I then tried to diffuse the theory of three dimensions by other means, and of the result; Appendix A. Critical reaction to Flatland; Appendix B. Biography and chronology of Edwin A. Abbott; References and recommended reading.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 131 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(53)

4 Star

(27)

3 Star

(26)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 132 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2010

    Excellent book, available as free Epub elsewhere

    Good read, don't buy it though. You can get it for free in public domain.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2009

    Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

    I chose this book (foolishly) to purchase rather than other editions because of the colorful cover. This edition was exactly the same as the "Gutenberg Project's" Ascii edition. It had the same print styles, same illustrations (in ASCII ART) and font styles. This book was just printed out and bound version of the free "Gutenberg Project" edition (http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/201) which is just ridiculous. I of course could be wrong but the similarities are uncanny.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Not so flat after all

    My friends in the literature department will tell you that this is a clever novel about Victorian England. If that's all it were, I couldn't recommend it to anyone. In point of fact, this book is a kind of bare bones look at culture itself (not merely Victorian Culture). By reducing everything to shapes, the author manages to show how cultures evolve—or perhaps better put: how nature influences the development of culture.

    Plus, if you don't know much about geometry (I don't), you may learn a little about that as well.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2004

    Prepare to be amazed.

    I recommend this as required reading for any geometry student and/or anyone who has ever given the slightest thought to dimensions other than our lovely 3rd dimension.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    A Timeless Classic

    This is going to be really corny, but it's true. This book influenced my decision to pursue mathematics and science as a career. Parts of it are a little dry, but these are the social commentary sections. I credit the rest of this book with equipping me to visualize higher dimensions. Definitely worth a read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2003

    A Great Book for the Open Mind

    This must be the best book I have read in years! It helped me understand mathematically and logically understand other dimensions as well as our own. This book will give you a glimpse of what living in a two dimensional world might look like, and also an Idea of what the fourth dimension might have in store in a logical manner. It also has a fantastic story and description of a two-dimensional culture, government and relationships. I strongly recommend it for geometry or advanced algebra students or anybody who wants a better understanding of multiple dimensions!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2000

    Excellent Choice for Student Teachers

    This book is an excellent choice for future math teachers. I am a junior in college getting my BA in Middle Level Math Education. This is an excellent book that will help understand demensions beyond our own.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2013

    Edwin A. Abbott wrote the "FLATLAND: A Romance of Many Dime

    Edwin A. Abbott wrote the "FLATLAND: A Romance of Many Dimensions" in 1884. He created a fictional world called Flatland for readers and introduced this two-dimensional world by depicting a journey of Mr. Square. Abbott used picturesque language, vigorous examples and his fabulous logical thinking to lead readers to enter the world he made. In this magic world, the Flatland is filled with Points, Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Polygons, and Circles. The Law of Nature in Flatland is different from the three-dimension world that readers live in, and women in Flatland are compared to needles. The narrator of this book is A. Square. He is a humorous and wise square. The society he lives in always emphasizes the social hierarchy, and the mind of government is narrow. After visiting Spaceland, where is also called three-dimension world, with a sphere, Mr. Square finally unhesitatingly believed there is a real world, which is not allowed by the government. He even thinks there are maybe more dimensions in the universe, which just are still not realized by people. 
    Many people discussed why Abbott wrote the "Flatland". Maybe he wanted to satirize the ugliness of government and society at that time by using an imaginary world, or maybe he wanted to eulogize the people who tried to break through hardship for revealing deeper cognitive about the world, we do not know. However, no matter what his purpose was, the book was regarded as the first book which presented the idea of a multi-dimensional world and discussed the relationship between every dimension scientifically. It is totally worthy to be read by people because in this childlike world, people not only can enjoy traveling the creative and amusing two-dimension world with the narrator, but also can learn many things, like what the society is look like in the late 19th century. Go read it! I bet you will get more fun!    --- By May 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    Great quick read

    Really fun nerdy read. The narrators formal tone is a easy to adapt to snd its written to the reader. Nice quick read and fun world to envision.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Worth it!

    Typing errors are frequent but not hard to understand, and the story is definitely worth it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2012

    Horible

    Horible ebook a giant typo and to many big words!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2012

    TYPO BAD

    Give me a free typo free book anyday but dont give me a google pasted mess-up and call it a great free book

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

    flatland, one of the best

    Great! if flatland was real, i would gladly live there

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012

    Student

    In class we have read this book it helps to have it explained by a teacher, it is very complex and dispite what the book says Abbott is not sexist, he is making fun of the time of whiched he lived in which many others were sexist. So his character A. Square acts as others. You might have to have a teachers guide to fully understand it because, if you are like me and my age it will help explain it in a way that really helps, WARNING: Many big words, lol

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2012

    An Amazing look into dimensions.

    This was easily the most entertaining math text I have read so far! I would recommend this text to anyone inrerested at all in reading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Anonymous

    Have read before, is AWESOME!!!!!

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  • Posted December 25, 2011

    Excellent

    Great book, it does not age

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    A Sci Fi Classic

    It was mentioned in Infinite Jest, so I bought it. It's a little dry, but it contains some great concepts.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2011

    ONE GIANT TYPO

    It is clear that no one proof read this ebook
    I have enjoyed flatland since childhood but this is a disgrace even for a free book

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Math, Social Commentary, and Theology

    This book, narrated by 'a square', explores what life in a two-dimensional world would be like. The first half of the book which describes Flatland's society is not only interesting sci-fi worldbuilding, but is a biting satire on Victorian society.

    In the second half, the narrator meets a three-dimensional being from Spaceworld (our world) and has visions of one-dimensional Lineworld and no-dimensional Pointworld. The recurring effort of explaining additional dimensions to a being who cannot see, feel, or even imagine them brings up interesting questions about faith/spirituality/religion. Even though this book was written over 125 years ago it remains fascinating and thought-provoking.

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