Flatland: A Romance Of Many Dimensions (Paperback)
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This highly original and entertaining short novel (which has been in print continually since its original publication in 1884) tells the story of A. Square, an inhabitant of the two-dimensional world Flatland. After an overview of Flatland society in all its aspects, A. Square recounts how he was led on a series of visions and travels to Pointland, Lineland, and Spaceland by A. Sphere on the last day of Flatland’s year 1999. Through his encounters with these other lands, A. Square realizes that there is indeed more to the universe than the world he lives in. A. Sphere opens A. Square’s mind to new possibilities, illuminating the path to knowledge through careful observation and commonsense experimentation. But when A. Square can be contented no longer with what he has already seen, he dreams of visiting a land of four dimensions, the so-called Thoughtland. As in real life, such desires are met with sometimes-violent opposition from society’s leaders in the name of maintaining the status quo.
Victorian clergyman and Shakespearean scholar Edwin Abbott penned this mathematical allegory about the dawn of reason seemingly in response to the puritanical environment of his era. Touching on themes of humanity’s insatiable quest for truth, authority’s tendency to squash radical ideas born from this quest, and the necessity of curiosity, Flatland is an odd and charming little book whose impact far surpasses its concise prose.
About the Author
Edwin A. Abbott was born in London on December 20, 1838, the son of the headmaster of the Philological School in Marylebone. Educated at the City of London School and at St. John’s College in Cambridge, he received highest honors in the classics, mathematics, and theology. After graduation Abbott married and became a minister. In addition to holding positions at King Edward’s School in Birmingham and at Clifton College in Bristol, he became headmaster of the City of London School in 1865—a position he held for twenty-five years. He was considered one of the greatest teachers of his era.
Abbott retired in 1889 to devote himself to his literary and theological pursuits. Although most remembered for his mathematical satire Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, published under the pseudonym A. Square, he authored many other books. Among his many works are Shakespearean Grammar (1870); Francis Bacon: His Life and Works (1885); the anonymous theological discussion The Kernel and the Husk (1886); three anonymously published religious romances— Philochristus (1878), Onesimus (1882), and Sitanus (1906); Philomythus (1891); The Anglican Career of Cardinal Newman (1892); St. Thomas of Canterbury, His Death and Miracles (1898); as well as “The Gospels,” an article published in the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Abbott died on October 12, 1926.