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Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – Unabridged, September 21, 1992
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"One of the most imaginative, delightful and, yes, touching works of mathematics, this slender 1884 book purports to be the memoir of A. Square, a citizen of an entirely two-dimensional world." - The Washington Post Book World
"Flatland has remained of interest for over a century precisely because of its ability to engage its readers on so many different planes in so many different dimensions." - Victorian Studies
"This reprint of Abbott's Flatland adventures contains an Intro-duction by Thomas Banchoff which is worth reading on its own. So if you don't have yet this book at home, go ahead and buy this edition." - Zentralblatt MATH
"In 1884, Edwin Abbott wrote a strange and enchanting novella called Flatland, in which a square who lives in a two-dimensional world comes to comprehend the existence of a third dimension but is unable to persuade his compatriots of his discovery. Through the book, Abbott skewered hierarchical Victorian values while simul-taneously giving a glimpse of the mathematics of higher dimensions." - Science News --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Fifty Years in the Flatland
2012 will mark the 50th anniversary in print with Dover of one of the most significant and influential books of the past century and a half. The mathematical, satirical, and religious allegory Flatland by a little-known but immensely prolific Victorian English schoolmaster and theologian Edwin Abbott Abbott, was first published anonymously in England in 1884 — Abbott wrote it under the name "A Square." The unique geometrical romance which is Flatland posited a world and its inhabitants that exist in only two dimensions and forces the reader captivated by the originality of this central idea to think deeply about the meaning of such a world. Generations of readers and students swept into the romance and fascination of geometry and other branches of mathematics and philosophy owe their introduction to this world to Flatland, which continues to entertain and stimulate new readers today, still going strong 126 years after the first edition was launched. Abbott revised the text somewhat for a second edition published just a few months after the first. Dover's 1952 edition was the first American reprinting of the amended second English edition and was published with a new Introduction by physicist Banesh Hoffmann.
From the Book:
"I CALL our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space. Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows — only hard and with luminous edges — and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said 'my universe': but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things."
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Top Customer Reviews
If you're about to read this excellent book for the first time, you'd be robbing yourself of the experience by trying to follow this garbled, text-only version. If you're already a fan, you'll just find this edition frustrating. So, whether or not you've read Flatland before, please spend the $1 for a nice, edited version with the illustrations included: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (Illustrated)
"This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work."
This could not possibly be further from the truth. This edition is so horribly modern and so absolutely not a facsimile reprint of the original as to make that description laughable. None of the original artwork is present. Instead it has been replaced with someone's horrible attempt at reproducing the pictures using nothing but ASCII characters.
If you're a fan of Flatland and want a nice hardback volume for your collection, this volume is not for you. If you've never read Flatland and will be reading it for the first time (which is when the illustrations are of the most value) this volume is not for you. Unless you just want to buy a book to use as firewood, this volume is not for you.
I have never returned a book to Amazon before - but will be doing so with this one.
Shape is destiny! The more sides one has, the better. Women, alas, aren’t even 2-diminsional. They are a simple one-dimensional line. Men are the only ones that have breadth. The simplest are isosceles triangles, low on the societal pecking order. Equilateral triangles a bit higher, squares higher still, then pentagons… and on, to ones that have so many sides they approximate a circle, who effectively are the High Priests. And the ones that are irregular shapes: they are the outcasts.
Abbott pushes the reader’s imagination by examining the question of how various entities recognize each other in 2-dimensions, when, on first glance, everyone should appear as a line. He posits that the fog in northern climates provides a mechanism for recognizing if an object is more than a line, since the brightness of the line would fall off in the fog. With careful training, how fast the brightness falls off would denote shape and societal status, not much different, I suppose, from how clothes labels do today. One could imagine Abbott chuckling to himself when he proposed that there was a movement called the “Chromatistes” who felt that shape recognition could be enhanced by simply requiring each shape to have a standard color. There was a conflict on this issue, and the “lines” (the women) and the “circles” (the high priests) were aligned against all other shapes on the issue of the “Universal Color Bill.”
Other dimensions are visited… both below, that is, 1-dimensional space, and no dimensional space (periods), as well as above, 3-dimensional and beyond. Each dimension has grave difficulties envisioning any other world, much like we do in our own. In fact, those who advocate recognition of worlds with different structural dimensions are subject to criminal prosecution. Abbott does recognize a serious flaw in his “flatland” model in that in true 2-dimensions, no shape could really see another, so he fudges the issue a bit by indicating that each shape does have an intrinsic height, and fudges it more by calling it “brightness.” Oh well, all too many paradigms contain their own contradictions.
Overall, a stimulating read, which paved the way for the “space-time continuum” universe of four dimensions. Still, there is the flaw in his 2-dimensional world of “brightness,” the status of women, and some archaic prose. 4-stars.
I wanted to know everything and anything about space and dimensions.
I was bursting with questions so I picked up Wired magazine to read about their issue dedicated to the movie.
One of the directors mentioned getting some inspiration and ideas from this book so I figured
"Ehhhh its $3 and shorter than a chapter in my engineering text book, why not?"
I went down the rabbit hole and it opened up a whole new door in my mind.
It helped me better understand how objects and people from different dimensions may perceive each other.
I bought Sphereland as well and highly recommend the two!