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Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
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With wry humor and penetrating satire, Flatland takes us on a mind-expanding journey into a different world to give us a new vision of our own. A. Square, the slightly befuddled narrator, is born into a place which is limited to two dimensions--irrevocably flat--and peopled by a hierarchy of geometrical forms. In a Gulliver-like tour of his bizarre homeland, A. Square spins a fascinating tale of domestic drama and political turmoil, from sex among consenting triangles to the intentional subjugation of Flatland's females. He tells of visits to Lineland, the world of one dimension, and Pointland, the world of no dimension. But when A. Square dares to speak openly of a third, even a fourth dimension, his tragic fate climaxes a brilliant parody of Victorian society.

Unless you're a mathematician, the chances of you reading any novels about geometry are probably slender. But if you read only two in your life, these are the ones. Taken together, they form a couple of accessible and charming explanations of geometry and physics for the curious non-mathematician. Flatland, which is also available under separate cover, was published in 1880 and imagines a two-dimensional world inhabited by sentient geometric shapes who think their planar world is all there is. But one Flatlander, a Square, discovers the existence of a third dimension and the limits of his world's assumptions about reality and comes to understand the confusing problem of higher dimensions. The book is also quite a funny satire on society and class distinctions of Victorian England. The further mathematical fantasy, Sphereland, published 60 years later, revisits the world of Flatland in time to explore the mind-bending theories created by Albert Einstein, whose work so completely altered the scientific understanding of space, time, and matter. Among Einstein's many challenges to common sense were the ideas of curved space, an expanding universe and the fact that light does not travel in a straight line. Without use of the mathematical formulae that bar most non-scientists from an understanding of Einstein's theories, Sphereland gives lay readers ways to start comprehending these confusing but fundamental questions of our reality.

Customer Reviews:

  • A real snoozefest
    This book is a cure for insomnia. If I ever have trouble falling to sleep, I'll just dig out my old "Flatland" book, and I'll probably be fast asleep a few minutes later! Listening to the A. Square character telling us about his flat, two dimensional world is not thought provoking, its just confusing! Trying to imagine life in two dimensions is truely mind numbing. I mean I understand what Flatland would be like, but only after I carefully think out what Mr. Square is saying. I spent more time trying to comprehend the two dimensional reality of Flatland than I do enjoying the story. Not very interesting at all, even two stars is being generous!...more info
  • Uninteresting
    While the concept was certainly revolutionary at the time this book was written, I found the story itself uninteresting and sexist. I would not recommend this book.
    ...more info
  • A creative story for math
    As a math teacher, I believe Flatland should be required reading. It is a geometric view in 2-dimensions that is challenging and funny. Can you imagine a world of 2-dimensions? The way of identifying characters, class and intelligence is intriguing. I believe this book is a classic....more info
  • Flatland as Analogy
    I read Flatland (which, I believe, in the US was published without post colon, as it was in the UK) when I was a teenager in the 1970s studying geometry and many other things (girls, art, girls, movies, girls...) without understanding much of any of it. The book fascinated me, and I went on (probably not because of it, but certainly in appreciation of it) to study Mathematics at University. I even sometimes bring it up in my consulting engagements as a way to explain how different types think of their world and learn. While there are different dimensions represented in the book, there are different learning styles, different socioeconomic exposures, different interests, different *people* we all have to deal with. I'd recommend Flatland to anyone who wants to take a different slant on why we are all different....more info
  • It's not about geometry!
    This book was written by a theologian, not a math professor, and it's not about geometry. The author uses geometry to create a parable that was intented to help open the mind of the reader to spiritual reality.

    What happens when a lowly square receives a revelation of a higher dimension of reality from a sphere, and then tells the other flat shapes what happened to him? He gets presecuted and thrown in prison. Does that sound vaguely like something that might happen in our world and has happened over and over again in history?

    Anyway, it seems our Westen Civilization is getting flatter all the time. Read this book, and gain some insight into our human condition, and some funny insights into the culture of Victorian England. How can you miss at this price? This book really is a classic. ...more info
  • Wisdom for pennies
    It's nice in this economy that you can still buy this much idea for this little money.

    Here is the book that tells what it means to be a prophet....more info
  • A Gateway Book
    I read this book when I was 13 because my math teacher recommended it. This book is great. It was first published in 1952 and is still used and taught by schools, mathematicians, physicists, and others. I have always had an interest in math and since reading this book I have been reading other math/science related books nonstop. Anyone who likes math should read this book....more info
  • If I could, I would give it ZERO stars...
    I purchased this book as part of a required reading for my high school honors geometry course. It is perhaps the most utterly boring and fanatical piece of fiction I have ever read. Not only is the book completely devoid of plot, it is lacking in all aspects of what a true work of fiction should include.
    This book has not educated me further on geometric concepts, nor has it enlightened me of any time period of which this book is said to be mirroring. Instead, it has wasted my time, which is precious to me now, and has completely confused me. Do not purchase this book. Do not assign it as required reading and most definitely do not read it for pleasure. There are other 80 page books that you can spend your time on.
    Read anything else before you read Flatland....more info
  • flatland
    this book was written a century ago - yet is embodies the principles, the mind skills which are currently developing our outstanding dot com industries. Read it - you will be fascinated!...more info
  • it opens your eyes...
    This book in its semplicity is very smart. It's like a comic fairytale but in the end the author's message is very deep. Everybody should read it.....more info
  • Unimaginable Dimensions
    Flatland is a unique and brilliant treatise on a trifurcated level. It is a sociological statement, a mathematical statement and a religious statement all rolled into an incredibly astute 82 pages. The book centers mostly on the differences between a two dimensional world and a three dimensional world; but comments on society, law, prejudice, religion, and proselytizing.

    The book especially points out the difficulty in envisioning a greater reality and a greater vision than is commonly observed by any individual in any dimension or society. The author's premise relates to things existing in a "plane geometry" world as opposed to a "Euclidian Geometric" three dimensional figure universe. The book carefully illustrates to one denizen of Flatland how the three dimensional world of space works and/or exists. Upon finally understanding the "Gospel of Three Dimensions" our protagonist goes on to try and apply the same arithmetic logic and geometric analogs to a fourth dimensional universe. Shouldn't there exist a fourth dimensional universe that allows an entity to look down upon the three dimensional universe with as much transparency as one can from three dimensions to two?

    Alas, things become different in dimensions other than the first, a world of lines, the second, a world of shapes and the third, a world of objects. In the zero dimension, all things are a point. Mathematically we know that any number raised to the "0" power equals 1 and therefore, all things in the zero dimension resolve into one single omnipotent point. This condition would also exist in the fourth dimension; as those of us in the third dimension have no model to compare it to. Envisioning a fourth dimension, even with time as the fourth dimension is truly difficult or impossible for us in the third dimension.

    Interspersed with this witty and intellectual dialogue are comments on society and its structure. He specifically comments multiple times of the degradation of women in society to the lowest social status. Only men are educated in Flatland. Interestingly, he paints a picture of an authoritarian society in which people are judged by their shapes and angles. This reflecting the Victorian societal values around him at the time of his writing.

    Flatland is recommended to all those who seek to enlighten their view of the universe and of potential universes. It is especially recommended to those seeking higher knowledge of any type. Flatland is truly a multi-dimensional experience and worth every minute.
    ...more info
  • Mind-Opening..
    This little book(and subsequent sequels by other authors) is guaranteed to cause the non-mathematically inclined reader to think in new ways and new directions.

    As one of the classics in this (very limited) genre, this book is well-worth the brief time it takes to read.....more info
  • a mind-expanding exercise of a book
    to the person who said "there ARE three dimmensions and we are NOT shapes"....the book is an allegory, and nowhere does it state that there isn't a third dimension. The book uses an IMAGINARY, multi-dimensional universe inhabited by shapes to convey the idea of higher and lower dimensions to us, who live in a three-dimensional world. the shapes aren't the point. the point is, (in my opinion) that we can use the same argument presented by A Square to A Sphere concerning higher dimensions, and apply it to our universe, and our dimension. I had to read this book over the summer as well, for freshman math, and i think it is great. It teaches you to think in entirely different ways, and i realize that a lot of people my age simply aren't up to that....more info
  • fun thought experiment
    this is a great book to help you put your mind around other dimensions. It was cleverly written and an enjoyable read....more info
  • A fun read for those who enjoy math, politics, and puzzles
    If you're obsessed with math but need a break from equations and formulas, pick up a copy of Edwin Abbott's Flatland and go to town. Published over a century ago, this book illustrates the faults of politics and nobility as it explores the delicate relations between the inhabitants of Flatland. As the book progresses it diligently explains the factors of the known dimensions, and the obstacles that separate them. This book is a great read for anyone who loves history, math, and a good laugh.

    This book follows a square that is set in his ways about the world. As an inhabitant of Flatland, this square ranks as a "Professional" or "Gentleman". He is joined by every other imaginable regular figure, and all have their place in the world according to their shape. The chain of nobility begins with women, who are, as Abbott repeatedly mentions, "straight lines". Following the women are Isosceles Triangles, who make up the army and servant class. Next come Equilateral Triangles, followed by Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and the rest of the regular Polygons follow suit. At the top of the pyramid rests the Priestly Circles, along with Polygons made up of so many thousands of sides they appear to be circles. Each level is smarter than the previous, starting with women who are like goldfish in their mentality, and ending with the Circles who occupy the highest roles of society. The second way Abbott connects the generations is highly entertaining for me, so I'll just leave that treasure for you to discover on your own.

    Abbott has a lot of fun in creating the geometric figures' way of life. For instance, he has made recognition of another figure possible by sound, sight, and touch. The women have to take special precaution due to their dangerous shape. Abbott goes to the extreme when describing their circumstances, which I believe to be rather humorous.

    The second part of the book follows the Square as he is shown dimensions that are unimaginable as well as down right silly in his perspective. He's shown Lineland, the world of one dimension, in a dream. Later a figure appearing to be a magical circle shows him the way to Sphereland, the world of three dimensions. Lastly, the Square is shown the world of Pointland, a place of no dimensions consisting of simple dots. Each world evokes a different response from the Square as his mind is opened to the various spaces surrounding him.

    All in all, the book was a fun read. The best part to me was Abbott's many explanatory diagrams. However, being a female I was severely disgruntled by the low intelligence and mockery of women. I did find peace in knowing that our sharp points could be the weapon of ultimate destruction, as ironic as that may be. The line of nobility definitely revealed the books age, and also evoked several strong feelings I have towards equal rights. I love how I was connected to the troubles and controversy of an older era while learning about present day mathematics. Honestly, if you are a person with strong opinions who loves to argue, this book will give you and your book club things to talk about! One factor that kept me zoned in throughout the story was the reoccurring mention of the phrase "straight line". This redundant fault of Abbott's was a rather comical feature for me, and I have to say it was interesting to see how many times it popped up.

    This book is a fun way to view the world as it exists in two dimensions. The flashbacks to historical ideals make for a highly political and controversial read that will surely keep the reader interested. Once Abbott starts explaining the multiple dimensions and their connections, the book becomes a whirlwind of that "I know what I mean but I just can't explain it" feeling of frustration and determination. If you or anyone you know enjoys geometry, controversial issues, and puzzles, this book is sure to be a hit.

    For hundreds of great reviews of young adult books by young adults themselves, be sure to check out notrequiredreading.com. ...more info
  • There's more to life than meets the eye
    (...). The obvious is that it is a math-ish book, just as any book written in English is also an English language book. To me, using an imaginary world of 2 dimensions and a journey into 0,1,3 dimensional worlds the author is revealing to us a potentailly new way in which to look at our own life, the universe etc. Its less a mathematical book and more a philosophical/spiritual book. The author's background should be an additional pointer towards this conclusion.

    The message is that there is more to us and our life on earth than is commonly understood. That our perception of the universe need not limit it to just that in reality. The story itself is a highly interesting illustration of this fact using mathematical concepts. And the best part -- the author commendably stays away from actually expounding any theories or belief systems. For anyone interested in spirituality, this book will be mighty enjoyable....more info

  • An amazing look at the perceptions of the world in an old-fashioned style
    Flatland is quite an interested and at times, mindblowing piece of writing. The novella length story can be seen as an expansive, yet fictitious look a a unique and possible world or can be perceived as an interesting look at our world from a vantage unlike any other and in this, there are many strong implications. This is a must read for any math lover or sci-fi fan....more info