Synopses & Reviews
One of the outstanding voices of his generation, David Foster Wallace has won a large and devoted following for the intellectual ambition and bravura style of his fiction and essays. Now he brings his considerable talents to the history of one of math's most enduring puzzles: the seemingly paradoxical nature of infinity.
Is infinity a valid mathematical property or a meaningless abstraction? The nineteenth-century mathematical genius Georg Cantor's answer to this question not only surprised him but also shook the very foundations upon which math had been built. Cantor's counterintuitive discovery of a progression of larger and larger infinities created controversy in his time and may have hastened his mental breakdown, but it also helped lead to the development of set theory, analytic philosophy, and even computer technology.
Smart, challenging, and thoroughly rewarding, Wallace's tour de force brings immediate and high-profile recognition to the bizarre and fascinating world of higher mathematics.
" is, in nearly every way, a gift. It's a thoughtful and witty 300-page testimonial to the qualities I never fully understood that mathematics possessed: Math is astonishing and full of 'shadowlands,' and-ultimately-stunning beauty." Anthony Doerr
"Wallace is the perfect parachute buddy for a free fall into the mathematical and metaphysical abyss that is infinity." American Scholar
"[Wallace] brings to his task a refreshingly conversational style as well as a surprisingly authoritative command of mathematics. . . . A success." John Allen Paulos
Is infinity a valid mathematical property or a meaningless abstraction? David Foster Wallace brings his intellectual ambition and characteristic bravura style to the story of how mathematicians have struggled to understand the infinite, from the ancient Greeks to the nineteenth-century mathematical genius Georg Cantor's counterintuitive discovery that there was more than one kind of infinity. Smart, challenging, and thoroughly rewarding, Wallace's tour de force brings immediate and high-profile recognition to the bizarre and fascinating world of higher mathematics.
"A gripping guide to the modern taming of the infinite."--. With a new introduction by Neal Stephenson.
About the Author
David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) is the author of the novels The Broom of the Systemand Infinite Jest, the story collections Brief Interviews with Hideous Men and Oblivion, and the nonfiction books A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again,Consider the Lobster, and Everything and More. He was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and numerous other awards.