Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth

( 5 )

Overview

An innovative, dramatic graphic novel about the treacherous pursuit of the foundations of mathematics.

This exceptional graphic novel recounts the spiritual odyssey of philosopher Bertrand Russell. In his agonized search for absolute truth, Russell crosses paths with legendary thinkers like Gottlob Frege, David Hilbert, and Kurt G?del, and finds a passionate student in the great Ludwig Wittgenstein. But his most ambitious goal?to establish unshakable logical foundations of ...

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Overview

An innovative, dramatic graphic novel about the treacherous pursuit of the foundations of mathematics.

This exceptional graphic novel recounts the spiritual odyssey of philosopher Bertrand Russell. In his agonized search for absolute truth, Russell crosses paths with legendary thinkers like Gottlob Frege, David Hilbert, and Kurt Gödel, and finds a passionate student in the great Ludwig Wittgenstein. But his most ambitious goal—to establish unshakable logical foundations of mathematics—continues to loom before him. Through love and hate, peace and war, Russell persists in the dogged mission that threatens to claim both his career and his personal happiness, finally driving him to the brink of insanity.

This story is at the same time a historical novel and an accessible explication of some of the biggest ideas of mathematics and modern philosophy. With rich characterizations and expressive, atmospheric artwork, the book spins the pursuit of these ideas into a highly satisfying tale.

Probing and ingeniously layered, the book throws light on Russell’s inner struggles while setting them in the context of the timeless questions he spent his life trying to answer. At its heart, Logicomix is a story about the conflict between an ideal rationality and the unchanging, flawed fabric of reality.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is an extraordinary graphic novel, wildly ambitious in daring to put into words and drawings the life and thought of one of the great philosophers of the last century, Bertrand Russell…A rare intellectual and artistic achievement, which will, I am sure, lead its readers to explore realms of knowledge they thought were forbidden to them.”—Howard Zinn

“This magnificent book is about ideas, passions, madness, and the fierce struggle between well-defined principle and the larger good.”—Barry Mazur, Gerhard Gade University Professor at Harvard University, and author of Imagining Numbers (Particularly the Square Root of Minus Fifteen)

Logicomix is witty, engaging, stylish, visually stunning, and full of surprising sound effects, a masterpiece in a genre for which there is as yet no name.”—Michael Harris, professor of mathematics at Université Paris 7 and member of the Institut Universitaire de France

Jim Holt
…presented with real graphic verve. (Even though I'm a text guy, I couldn't keep my eyes off the witty drawings.) To ginger up the story, the authors often deviate from the actual facts…We are assured, however, that no liberties have been taken with "the great adventure of ideas." And for the most part the ideas are conveyed accurately, and with delightful simplicity.
—The New York Times
Dan Kois
Logicomix is an engaging, energetic work that makes big ideas accessible without dumbing them down.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
An ambitious full-color exploration of the life and ideas of philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell, the book meticulously interconnects Russell’s life, the timelessness of his ideas and the process of creating the book. While a comic about the “quest for the foundations of mathematics” may seem arduous, it is engrossing on many levels; the story moves, despite heavy philosophical and technical information, as the images, dialogue and narration play off each other. Russell’s story is framed within a speech he gave on the brink of America’s entry into WWII, in which he expounds his life and philosophical journey. Russell’s story is also framed by the creators working in Greece, as they discuss and mold his life into a narrative structure. One of the most prominent themes is the conflict and symbiosis between “madness and logic.” The fear of madness haunts Russell because of childhood trauma, as he neurotically pushes himself toward what he conceives of as its opposite, a system for certainty. Inventive, with both subtle and overt narrative techniques, the comic form organizes the complex ideas into a simpler system, combining to form a smart and engaging journey through the ambiguity of truth. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Orphaned, insecure, and brilliant, Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) sought true certainty through mathematics and logic. His Principia Mathematica, created with Alfred North Whitehead over ten painful years, brought wide acclaim but not certainty, as the Vienna Circle of philosophers and Ludwig Wittgenstein upset his approach with wholly new paradigms. Ultimately, Russell turned to how to live one's life and found peace at last by supporting pacifism and a rational, humanistic ethic. The comics creators begin the story in Athens as characters themselves, before Russell takes over as narrator. As finale, we join the creators at a performance of Aeschylus's Oresteia, where Athena herself resolves the tragic cycle through rational ethics: democratic vote and tolerance of differences. VERDICT This brilliant graphic novel wraps academia's big ideas of Truth and Meaning into a story about the thinkers and their passions, by turns fascinating and charming with deft color art. Doxiadis is an expert in the relationship of mathematics to narrative and Papadimitriou a computer science professor.—M.C.
Kirkus Reviews
Bertrand Russell-philosophical superhero?Part of the narrative strategy here is metacomic: Authors Doxiadis and Papadimitriou, along with artists Papadatos and Di Donna, are not only the creators of this graphic novel with academic underpinnings, they are characters within it, confronting the challenge of how to make Bertrand Russell's inquiries into logic and mathematics understandable to the "average reader," while questioning whether said average reader even exists. They ultimately conclude that "mathematics and comics, like oil and water, don't ever mix!" The average reader (if he or she exists) might well agree. Framing the narrative is a lecture given by Russell, protested by isolationists, on the eve of Britain's entry into World War II against Nazi Germany. Since he has been asked to speak on "The Role of Logic in Human Affairs," he jokes, "If I take the injunction literally you shall hear the shortest lecture in recorded history." Interspersed with his talk, and the authors' attempts to turn this presentation into a graphic narrative, are flashbacks exploring "Bertie" Russell's life and the intellectual development that led to Principia Mathematica in collaboration with Alfred North Whitehead. Soap-opera strains of madness taint the bloodlines of philosophers who strive for logic; affairs of the heart owe little to the brain. Young Russell challenges his philosophical mentors and ultimately faces challenges from his own gifted student, Ludwig Wittgenstein. For those who come to this narrative without much background, the volume helpfully includes a short afterword that helps distinguish fact from invention, a longer notebook with capsule biographies of those featured in thenarrative, definitions of concepts and even a bibliography. Despite the collaborators' best efforts to emphasize the human element, this graphic novel can't help but read a lot like a textbook. Author tour to New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Ore. Agent: Clare Conville/Conville & Walsh
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596914520
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 9/29/2009
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 147,038
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Admitted to Columbia University at age fifteen, novelist Apostolos Doxiadis studied mathematics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. His international bestseller Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture spearheaded the impressive entrance of mathematics into the world of storytelling. Apart from his work in fiction, Apostolos has also worked in film and theater and is an internationally recognized expert on the relationship of mathematics to narrative. His Web site is www.apostolosdoxiadis.com

Christos H. Papadimitriou is C . Lester Hogan professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. He was won numerous international awards for his pioneering work in computational complexity and algorithmic game theory. He has written the novel Turing: A Novel about Computation.

Alecos Papadatos has drawn and directed animated commercials, TV cartoon series and animated films. In 1997, he became a cartoonist for the major Athens daily “To Vima” and created commercial comic strips and comics. He lives in Athens with his wife, Annie Di Donna, and their two children.

Annie Di Donna studied graphic arts at the École Superieure des Arts Decoratifs, Grenoble, and painting at the École des Beaux Arts, Annecy. She has worked as animator in many productions of France Animation and Canal Plus, among them Babar and Tintin. Since 1991, she has been running an animation studio with her husband, Alecos Papadatos.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 20, 2013

    Highly Recommend for Math Fans

    Who would have ever thought there would be a comic about theoretical mathematics and make it looks so great? If you are a math, logic, Bertrand Russell, or graphic novel fan you need to check this out as you’ll be hard pressed to find another graphic novel where Bertrand Russell is the “hero”. Beautifully drawn and written with an “appendix” of great explanations at the end.

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    A one of a kind approach that tells a philosophical hero tale.

    This story serves as a great introduction to philosophy, mathematics, logic and the quest for truth. And amazingly enough, it's easy to follow and fun!

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  • Posted January 3, 2010

    A great read!

    I was drawn to this book for it's comic book format, The story is a very
    compelling adventure. You are drwan into the story just by reading the very first couple of pages. This book is certainly not just for children it is for well seasoned readers of all ages.
    I would recomend this book to upper class schools for there students to understand how the study of mathamatics was conceived.

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    Posted March 4, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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