Monday, July 16, 2012

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

by Edwin A. Abbott

Grade: 4 stars
Story: A square living in a two-dimensional universe explains the working of his universe, and then tells the story of how he explored, in reality and in visions, the universes of no dimensions, one dimension, and three dimensions.

Thoughts: I should have read this at the same time as A Wrinkle in Time. The talk about multiple dimensions in WiT totally fascinated me, and I think this book would have followed up on that perfectly. At this present time, however, it doesn't go into quite as much depth as I'd like. They didn't even go to the Fourth Dimension! Although I suppose it's left up to the reader to do that, as a sort of exercise. And there are other resources if you want to go farther in dimensional thought (like this awesome video).

But I shouldn't be too upset about this "lack of depth". It was written in 1884, after all. Before Einstein and quantum physics--before practically everything related to this.

The second main element of this book is Victorian satire. The Square who is the "author" of Flatland has definitive views on his society. Many of them rather ridiculous. Personally, I found this part (most of Part I) not as interesting, but I fully acknowledge that many people like Victorian satire more than imagining different dimensions. So I don't blame anyone if they find the first half far more interesting than the second half.

One main reason for me buying books (besides the ease of re-reading and the gazing at the beauty of them sitting on their shelves) is the hope that someday someone will come to me and say, "I want to learn about [-----]. Give me books!" This is labelled "To Own" for mostly that reason.

EDIT: The above paragraph no longer makes sense! I hate when that happens. I changed my grading system, so it's no longer graded "To Own". But it might be given slightly more stars than it could have been based on the reason stated in the above paragraph. So I'm going to let it stand.

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