Econstudentlog

Flatland

An awesome book!

A quote:

“Throughout the previous pages I have been assuming—what perhaps should have been laid down at the beginning as a distinct and fundamental proposition—that every human being in Flatland is a Regular Figure, that is to say of regular construction. By this I mean that a Woman must not only be a line, but a straight line; that an Artisan or Soldier must have two of his sides equal; that Tradesmen must have three sides equal; Lawyers (of which class I am a humble member), four sides equal, and, generally, that in every Polygon, all sides must be equal.

The size of the sides would of course depend upon the age of the individual. A Female at birth would be about an inch long, while a tall adult Woman migh extend to a foot. As to the Males of every class, it may be roughly said that the lenght of an adults’ sides, when added together, is two feet or a little more. But the size of our sides is not under consideration. I am speaking of the equality of sides, and it does not need much reflection to see that the whole of the social life in Flatland rests upon the fundamental fact that Nature wills all Figures to have their sides equal.

If our sides were unequal our angles might be unequal. Instead of its being sufficient to feel, or estimate by sight, a single angle in order to determine the form of an individual, it would be necessary to ascertain each angle by the experiment of Feeling. But life would be too short for such a tedious groping. The whole science and art of Sight Recognition would at once perish; Feeling, as far as it is an art, would not long survive; intercourse would become perilous or impossible; there would be an end to all confidence, all forethought; no one would be safe in making the most simple social arrangements; in a word, civilization would relapse into barbarism.”

He points out a little later in the story that: “If my Readers have followed me with any attention up to this point, they will not be surprised to hear that life is somewhat dull in Flatland.” But things used to be different – included in the story is the awesome tale of the Colour Revolt and its suppression – and the character we follow probably lives one of the most exciting lives of any Flatlander alive at that point; we are told about his adventures/experiences while visiting Lineland and Spaceland as well as his brief visit to the king of Pointland, among other things.

This is a short but wonderful book!

June 28, 2013 - Posted by | books, mathematics

3 Comments »

  1. Indeed it is! I read it a few years ago, and I was utterly enraptured. Was I the one who recommended it to you? I don’t remember.

    Comment by Miao | June 28, 2013 | Reply

    • You may have recommended it, but it’s been on my ‘to-read-list’ (no such list actually exists in Spaceland, but…) for at least a few years. I’m glad I got around to reading it eventually – it was very enjoyable.

      Comment by US | June 28, 2013 | Reply

      • Incidentally if you enjoyed Flatland, you’ll probably also enjoy this (and I should note that if other readers who have yet to read Flatland found this video enjoyable, they’ll probably like the book):

        I’ve blogged it before, but it seemed natural to include it here.

        Comment by US | June 28, 2013


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