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Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – Unabridged, September 21, 1992
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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."
Top customer reviews
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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)
I read this book a couple years ago on the recommendation of a friend (who loaned me her copy) and I loved it! I thought it was a brilliant little satire of a society that puts too much emphasis on class and I thought that the idea of a two-dimensional being doubting the existence of a third dimension was hilarious. I laughed at how, in the second dimension, the number of sides one had would determine class, with Isosceles triangles being the lowest class and equilateral triangles being the class immediately above them- I laughed at the brief history of Triangle Civil Rights and upward mobility. This book is full of little things like that, but as it is a short book I won't give too many examples. In short, I was laughing constantly at jokes surely only a nerd like myself could love.
The only thing about this book is that there really isn't a story- the first two thirds lays out the premise of life in the second dimension (the previously mentioned class system and triangle civil rights, how everything in the second dimension looks like a straight line and how they compensate for it, how their society views and treats women etc.) with the last part serving as "the story" - the two-dimensional narrator's interactions with a third dimensional being and the resulting revelations. Or as I half-jokingly put it- "The story of a square who wanted to be a cube." When it comes down to it, the story really only serves as a vehicle for the premise of life in the second dimension. That being said, I highly recommend reading this book- just not this edition.
So, the first sentence of this review, I described the cover as having a pair of owl eyes on it; looking back, those eyes should have been the first indicator that something was not right- there are no birds or any real sort of wild animal in Flatland, and this cover seems like it would be better suited for a story that takes place in the jungle- or perhaps for a suspense novel; however none of this occurred to me until after I had placed the order.
I had read several reviews on Amazon about editions of this book that did not contain illustrations, so the first thing I did when I received my copy was to check the illustrations- having read this book before I knew that the handful of illustrations were simple, hand-drawn diagrams of shapes and occasionally arrows to indicate motion (as this book takes place in a world where everything is literally just a 2D shape, that makes sense- all the illustrations look like diagrams you would expect to find in a 19th century Geometry textbook); you can imagine my surprise when the illustrations were detailed (though poorly reproduced and black and white) depictions of religious scenes from various faiths. I'm not kidding, I think somebody working for the publisher forgot to do quality control at the last step and the image files for this book got swapped with the image files for a book about religion. I flipped through the book very briefly just to make sure- I saw the Baptism of Christ, I saw Shiva, I think I saw Joseph Smith and Brigham Young in there somewhere but I did not see the simple, hand-drawn diagrams of Flatland. I then put the book down in disgust and began the return process.
Very good book, very bad edition.
I had had another version of the book, published by a different house, but had lost it. The ISBN number of the Filiquarian edition is 9781599869285.
I am very annoyed at this book, and it is little short of junk. The publisher admits that it is "Publishing this edition due to its public domain". What a strange thing to say! But now that I have paid for it and read it, I find it to be of a very inferior nature. There are scores of clearly wrong words and spelling errors, and the text is not right justified. It seems to have been typed by one or more poor typists, and there was never any proofreading or spellchecking done. The structure of the paragraphs is often wrong, so that things you may think are part of one conversation are actually someone else's, and belong in a new paragraph.
The original and all other versions had diagrams, which were referred to by the narrator of the book to explain the mathematics of Flatland and to show the various shapes of the population. This edition has no diagrams. It beats me why this book was published, except to rush something into print - no matter how poor and sloppy - just to make money off Edwin Abbott's talent.