The Annotated Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

The Annotated Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Ian Stewart

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0465011233

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Annotated Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Ian Stewart

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0465011233

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Flatland is a unique, delightful satire that has charmed readers for over a century. Published in 1884 by the English clergyman and headmaster Edwin A. Abbott, it is the fanciful tale of A. Square, a two-dimensional being who is whisked away by a mysterious visitor to The Land of Three Dimensions, an experience that forever alters his worldview.

Like the original, Ian Stewart’s commentary takes readers on a strange and wonderful journey. With clarity and wit, Stewart illuminates Abbott’s numerous Victorian references and touches on such diverse topics as ancient Babylon, Karl Marx, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Mt. Everest, H.G. Wells, and phrenology. The Annotated Flatland makes fascinating connections between Flatland and Abbott’s era, resulting in a classic to rival Abbott’s own, and a book that will inspire and delight curious readers for generations to come.

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man teaching history badly.” By good man, Bowen meant a man of “character” — as determined by the standards and prejudices of the upper classes of his day. 7 The image here is of failures as a source of sedition. The association of college dropouts with nonconformity was alive and well in Victorian times. 72 T H E A N N OTAT ED FL AT L A ND they are also despised by the lower. They have neither the matured and systematically trained powers of the Polygonal Bachelors and Masters of Arts, nor

however, combine subtractively —the effect of a mixture depends on the differences between the component colors because paints absorb light (of all colors that differ from the one we see). The CMYK model employs Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow as its primary colors. A mixture of all three should in principle give black, but in practice the result is a muddy brown, so black (K) is added explicitly as a fourth component. Now a mixture of cyan and magenta gives blue, magenta and yellow give red, and

attended a boarding school. There were boarding-schools for girls, but they were mostly “finishing schools” for upperclass young ladies, which taught them music, deportment, dancing, and French. Classics courses and mathematics more advanced than arithmetic (such as geometry and algebra) were entirely absent from the girls’ curriculum. 8 This entrenched Victorian attitude persisted well beyond that period. Indeed, it is still widely held today, even though female mathematicians have proved

Wife. But before your Lordship enters into further communications, would he deign to satisfy the curiosity of one who would gladly know whence his Visitor came? Stranger. From Space, from Space, Sir: whence else? I. Pardon me, my Lord, but is not your Lordship already in Space, your Lordship and his humble servant, even at this moment? TH E AN N OTATE D FL ATL AN D 137 0465011230-all.qxd 4/25/08 10:59 AM Page 138 F L AT L A N D 1 A. Square is now experiencing the same difficulty that the

Dimension. No, no, my Lord; we Squares are better advised, and are as well aware as your Lordship that a Woman, though popularly called a Straight Line, is, really and scientifically, a very thin Parallelogram,4 possessing Two Dimensions, like the rest of us, viz., length and breadth (or thickness). Stranger. But the very fact that a Line is visible implies that it possesses yet another Dimension. I. My Lord, I have just acknowledged that a Woman is broad as well as long. We see her length, we

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