Synopses & Reviews
Flatland, like our own world, is on the verge of the millenium. On the last day of the year 1999, a Square— hitherto undistinguished from the other shapes of his two-dimensional world— receives the Gospel of Three Dimensions, revealed to that world's flat inhabitants only once every a thousand years. Transformed by a truth he is unable to conceal, he is promptly condemned as a heretic. His poignant tale is itself a multi-dimensional creation, for it is not only a challenge to our most basic perceptions of everyday reality, but a sharp social satire and an illuminating mathematical treatise as well.
In the tradition of fantasy and social satire that includes Gulliver's Travels , Alice in Wonderland, and Animal Farm, Abbott pokes fun at the rigid class structure and concern for appearances of his Victorian society even as he poses an underlying question that is as provoking today as it was a century ago. Could we and everything we see around us be only a cross section for worlds of higher dimensions?
"This pre-Einstein geometrical fantasy is one of the best things of its kind that has ever been written, for it is more than an ingeniously sustained fantasy: it is a social satire, with wit as sharp as the sub-lutrous end of a Flatland woman; it is an easy philosophical introduction to the Fourth Dimension; and it is a rebuke to everyone who holds that there is no reality beyond what is perceptible by human senses." Saturday Review
A century-old classic of British letters that charmed and fascinated generations of readers with its witty satire of Victorian society and its unique insights, by analogy, into the fourth dimension.
First published more than 100 years ago, this is one of few early classics to combine fantasy with satirical social commentary. A poignant allegory in two dimensions, it recounts the unhappy fate of an ordinary citizen who dares to challenge prevailing notions of reality.
Over a hundred years ago, Edwin Abbott Abbott wrote a mathematical adventure set in a world on one plane, populated by a hierarchical society of regular geometrical figures -- who think and speak and have all too human emotions. Since then Flatland has fascinated generations of readers, becoming a perennial science-fiction favorite. By imagining the contact of beings from different dimensions, the author fully exploited the power of the analogy between the limitations of humans and those of his two-dimensional characters. A first-rate fictional guide to the concepts of relativity and multiple dimensions of space, the book also will appeal to those who are interested in computer graphics. This field, which literally makes higher dimensions seeable, has aroused a new interest in visualization. We can now manipulate objects in four dimensions and observe their three-dimensional slices tumbling on the computer screen....[T]here is no better start on the problem of understanding higher-dimensional slicing phenomena than reading this classic novel of the Victorian era.
About the Author
EDWIN ABBOTT ABBOTT (1838-1926) has been ranked as one of the leading scholars and theologians of the Victorian era. He received highest honors in mathematics, classics, and theology at St. John's College, Cambridge, and in 1862 began a brilliant career, during which he served as schoolmaster of some of England's outstanding schools. At the same time he distinguished himself as a scholar, and in 1889 he retired to his studies. Although Flatland, a literary jeu d'esprit, has given pleasure to thousands of readers over many generations, Abbott is best known for his scholarly works, especially his Shakespearian Grammar and his life of Francis Bacon, and for a number of theological discussions.