Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity

Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity


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Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity by David Foster Wallace

"A gripping guide to the modern taming of the infinite."—The New York Times. With a new introduction by Neal Stephenson.
Is infinity a valid mathematical property or a meaningless abstraction? David Foster Wallace brings his intellectual ambition and characteristic bravura style to the story of how mathematicians have struggled to understand the infinite, from the ancient Greeks to the nineteenth-century mathematical genius Georg Cantor's counterintuitive discovery that there was more than one kind of infinity. Smart, challenging, and thoroughly rewarding, Wallace's tour de force brings immediate and high-profile recognition to the bizarre and fascinating world of higher mathematics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393339284
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/04/2010
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 318,037
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) is the author of Infinite Jest, Girl with Curious Hair, Everything and More, The Broom of the System, and other fiction and nonfiction. Among his honors, he received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Whiting Writers' Award.

Date of Birth:

February 21, 1962

Date of Death:

September 12, 2008

Place of Birth:

Ithaca, NY

Place of Death:

Claremont, CA


B.A. in English & Philosophy, Amherst College, 1985;MFA, University of Arizona, 1987

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Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Readers who are interested in the subject more than in math itself and who, like myself, have only a first year college math, will want to read this book twice. But I will go a step further than the Journal in saying that readers, when they feel they are getting lost, will stop, as I did, and put in a marker. They will then return to the last place where they felt comfortable and try again to 'cross the road', confident that it is possible (because Wallace says so) but all the while mindfull of the fact that there really is no end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Review of David Foster Wallace's 'Everything and More: A Compact History of {infinity}' Is this book merely an instance of the bland leading the blind? It may be more perilous than that, since readers with a genuine but uncultivated interest in the subjects which the book purports to address---roughly, the concept of 'infinity' in mathematics---may be more than merely mislead by Wallace's rambling, irreverent romp through soundbytes from the undergraduate math curriculum: they may be soured on the subjects themselves. The first---and cardinal---error committed by Wallace is his presentational style. His mistake is one that could only be committed but one who either lacked comprehension of the math behind the pop-sci summaries, or else was so contemptuous of those results that a sincere attempt to communicate the underlying ideas seemed superflous. Bluntly put, the first thing any prospective initiate into the world of mathematical thought must do is free himself from the need to accomodate one's thinking, reasoning---and indeed, presentational style---to the comfortable glibness prized in everyday discourse (and apparently, in certain long-winded works of fiction). Wallace probably believes that by adhering to a populist style, he will attract more readers to his subject. This may be true, but in so doing, he has marred the beauty of that subject so hopelessly beyond recognition that sincere readers will find little of value in his presentation. The book is not only not recommended, it is recommended to be avoided.
Pazzo More than 1 year ago
While in today's world of calculus and advanced math, we may take infinity for granted, this book is a great demonstration of the difficulties and benefits of abstract thought. Like how it wasn't until math became more abstracted (and removed from the physical reality) that it was able to provide science with profound real-world breakthroughs. A fiction writer of the non-science variety, DFW is brings his unique perspective and writing style to a truly fascinating subject. While the math can get heavy at times, he still manages to spin an intriguing narrative and show the trouble, paradoxes, and controversy throughout history caused by the very concept of infinity.
andypurshottam on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Historical intro to set theory by essayist/novelist is written in idiosyncratic style to appeal to math phobics. Shows set theory created to formalize infinite reasoning needs of analysis. Has an introduction to diagonalization proofs, using |S|
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