Saturday, June 11, 2011

Reading: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
By: Edwin Abbott  Abbott
(yes there are suppose to be 2 Abbotts)

Have owned this book for, um, uh, well as long as I can remember. Never read it. Don’t know why, because it’s only about 2 pages (or 86, something like that), but I guess the mood never struct me. And mood is important when I’m choosing among my diverse collection of books. Don’t ask why - it just is. 

Truth be told, I love to “get” books. Buy, borrow, find, receive as a gift, whatever. All in hopes that one day I’ll read every single one of them (which is silly since I’m always getting more). I’ve been known to get excited about reading a particular book, even fantasize about what is in it, only to let time wither away and then stuff it back on the book case to gather dust alongside its friends and foes.

Don’t get me wrong, I DO read a lot of them, but not nearly as many as I would like. Still I bring them home. Still I get excited about their potential contents. I’m rebellious like that. 

Anyway, back to Flatland. Pretty interesting so far. Not your typical story, but that’s probably why I got it oh-so-many-years-ago. Or maybe it was for college; I don’t remember. The book is a social satire novel, but also offers an excellent explanation of dimensions. The basic context (that I can ascertain so far) is that it is about 2 different worlds: Flatland and Spaceland.

Flatland is  about a 2 dimensional world and presumably Spaceland is about a 3 dimensional one. [Note: given the period this was written, late 1800’s, “space” is not conceptualized as we know it.] The narrater (a square) is speaking to someone in Spaceland, but we don’t know too much about it yet. There is hint of another world.

If you like math and silliness, then you may like this. If you are looking for some deep romance novel, HA! you’ll hate it. From what I understand it is a book that really is making fun of the Victorian era, but instead it uses geometry, physics and other mathematical references for everything. For example, in Flatland women are straight lines (literally) and men can be anything from a isosceles triangle to an almost circle (male priest). The story is quite amusing when it goes into context of how the law requires women to shake their hindquarters back and forth lest they cause a fatal accident (as frequently occurs) when not seen. 

I will try an update this when I finish, but I wanted to put a place holder here to describe a decidedly unusual book. 

UPDATE: I’m too lazy for an update - so here is a related, funny cartoon: http://xkcd.com/721/

Notes

  1. kristynthezoo posted this