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Edwin A. Abbott (1838–1926)

Forfatter af Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

38+ Works 10,839 Members 194 Reviews 4 Favorited

Om forfatteren

Edwin A. Abbott was born December 20, 1838. He attended City of London School and Cambridge, where he was an honor student in the classics. Following the career path of his father, Abbott was ordained an Anglican minister. Later he rejected a career as a clergyman and at the age of twenty-six, he vis mere returned to City of London School as Headmaster, a position he held for twenty-five years. Always curious about views from varying perspectives, he promoted a liberal attitude toward people of differing backgrounds. As president of the Teachers Training Society, for example, he lobbied for access to university education for women. He resigned as Headmaster at age fifty-three in protest of proposed changes to the mission of the school. Abbott wrote more than fifty books on widely different topics. He had published two series of his sermons while at Cambridge, a book on Shakespearean grammar, and accounts of his efforts to admit women to higher education. His most notable work is Flatland, written in 1884. Flatland is still widely read by both mathematicians and science-fiction readers because of its portrayal of the idea of higher dimensions. The narrator, a two-dimensional square called A Square happens into a three-dimensional world where he gains a wider vision into objects in his two-dimensional home. The book was a favorite with C. S. Lewis. Abbott died on October 12, 1926. (Bowker Author Biography) vis mindre
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Værker af Edwin A. Abbott

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884) 9,777 eksemplarer
Flatland / Sphereland (1994) 286 eksemplarer
Johannine Grammar (1906) 14 eksemplarer
Tauba Auerbach: Folds (2011) 11 eksemplarer
Via Latina: A First Latin Book (1903) — Forfatter — 8 eksemplarer
Philochristus (1878) 7 eksemplarer
Silanus the Christian (1906) 5 eksemplarer
How to Parse (2019) 5 eksemplarer
Philomythus (1891) 5 eksemplarer
The message of the Son of man (1909) 2 eksemplarer
Cambridge Sermons (2009) 1 eksemplar
Flatland Minibook (2021) 1 eksemplar
A Second Latin Book (2015) 1 eksemplar

Associated Works

Science Fiction Short Stories (Gothic Fantasy) (2015) — Bidragyder — 138 eksemplarer
The World of Mathematics, Volume 4 (1956) — Bidragyder — 123 eksemplarer
Das Hobbit-Buch (1988) — Forfatter — 7 eksemplarer
30 Eternal Masterpieces of Humorous Stories (2017) — Bidragyder — 4 eksemplarer

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Interesting, but. As a thought experiment, kind of interesting, but oh, the sexism (and presumably racism, but I'm writing this review a long time after reading it, and I don't remember the story all that well).
fred_mouse | 182 andre anmeldelser | May 10, 2024 |
I'm not sure why the subtitle contains the word 'romance'.
This book reminded me of Star Maker, but luckily Flatland is much shorter and consists of beautiful English prose. Flatland is a monologue describing an epiphany concerning the Nature of the Universe. I also see connections with thought experiments such as Plato's allegory of the cave. It invites the reader to extend the analogy to our own experience.
The tone of the narrator is scientific and slightly sad, which makes it (despite its short length) a bit of a heavy read. There's also a distopian tinge to the story.
The Flatland States are conservative and very woman-unfriendly. Can't tell if the writer is a bigot or a satirist. ;)
… (mere)
jd7h | 182 andre anmeldelser | Feb 18, 2024 |
This is a fascinating little book. Written in the latish 19th century, it is a despatch from a very simple two-dimensional world by one of its inhabitants, the supposed author: A Square. The first part of the book simply describes the society of Flatland for the benefit of we three-dimensional creatures, its intended audience. The second describes how the square came to learn of our three-dimensional world, as well as other zero- and one-dimensional worlds, and his efforts to educate his fellow bi-dimensional fellows about the higher dimensions.

Both sections are very different (the first has little plot, and more of the maths; the second is much more philosophical), but both are packed with allusions and layers of meaning. For example, the society shows antediluvian, barely qualified, attitudes to women and class - this is a little off-putting initially, until it becomes clear that this is social satire, of a Swiftian level. In describing his attempts to educate people about the higher-dimensions, Abbott is explicitly imploring the reader to be open-minded about radical abstract ideas, by way of making us consider that there are higher-dimensions of which we are not aware. And ultimately the story contains elements of traditional tragedy, of transformation - apotheosis even - and of attaining knowledge from a state of ignorance and of the resultant fall from grace.

On top of that, the book is crammed with references to Shakespeare and the classics. (And through all that it is written in beguilingly simple language (although in a slightly archaic style - even for the 19th century - to give it a timeless quality).

It is a deceptively simple, towering achievement.

This edition in particular is to be recommended. I found the notes on the maths, and Abbott's literary references very useful (although the ones explaining some of the language far less so). And almost more fascinating than Abbott's fable of abstract thought is the man that emerges in the other material in the book.

From the main text you discern a clever, thorough, drily witty and whimsical man; and the basic notes clearly illustrate through their detailing of classical and literary allusions, a highly - and widely - learned man; but that barely scratches the many surfaces of Abbott. Fortunately there is considerable back material in the appendices to fill in some of the detail. His accomplishments include

Legendary headmaster (Prime Minister Asquith attended the City of London School while Abbott was in charge)
An award-winning Cambridge scholar (top in his year in Classics)
A renowned preacher
A bible scholar and leading progressive thinker on the non-miraculous Jesus (reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson's 'The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazare')
Shakespearean scholar
A biographer and critic of Cardinal Newman
Educational reformer (an early proponent of formal teacher training; promoting teaching for lower classes)
Active Proponent of women's education and suffrage
Admiree (reciprocated) of George Eliot
Author of numerous books and essays, on a range of topics encompassing most of the above

And, of course, a writer of whimsical mathematical fiction, which - along with beautifully communicated (and occasionally entertainingly illustrated) higher mathematical concepts - incorporates existentialism, social criticism, and a plea for scientific rigour and open-mindedness.

I have a new hero.
… (mere)
thisisstephenbetts | 182 andre anmeldelser | Nov 25, 2023 |
Delightful and thought-provoking for a twelve-year-old. One of those classic books from which everyone can absorb deep and lasting ideas.
sfj2 | 182 andre anmeldelser | Nov 13, 2023 |



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