“Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” by Edwin A. Abbott
2013/04/03 § 2 Comments
“Flatland” is a mathematical satire and religious allegory, written in the shape of the memoirs of A Square, an inhabitant of a two-dimensional world, who had visited other lands – Pointland, Lineland and Spaceland – and gained invaluable insights into the structure of the Universe.
Though these journeys and dreams/visions sound like a religious experience (and Edwin Abbott himself was a theologian), the main goal of “Flatland” – to make us think outside the observable world and imagine new dimensions, dimensions we can’t perceive – is not necessarily religious in nature. This Square hopes that his account “may stir up a race of rebels who shall refuse to be confined to limited Dimensionality”: “like a second Prometheus, I will endure this and worse, if by any means I may arouse in the interiors of Plane and Solid Humanity a spirit of Rebellion against the Conceit which would limit our Dimensions to Two or Three or any number short of Infinity.” I thought this was quite interesting and nicely done. Also, in the first part of the book, Abbott cleverly uses geometrical concepts to criticize his own society (e.g. social stratification is depicted as hierarchy of geometric figures), which I found particularly amusing.
Bear in mind that “Flatland” was written in the 19th century, and if you like math, social critique and enjoy pondering the nature of the Universe (or Multiverse) – you’ll like this book. A religious person might experience it on a different level, but I guess they’d like it as well.
FLATLAND: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884) by Edwin A. Abbott
“Flatland: The Movie” (imdb) trailer: