Since Im recommending the book, Im really hoping for the former, as I do not want to incur a cyber-flogging (or worse) from my fellow goodreaders. As I alluded to in my intro, this book contains MATH. Thus, I want to caution that when you get to the section where a three dimensional Sphere is explaining a universe containing only one dimension to our two-dimensional protagonist, you should.IMMEDIATELYDISCONTINUEREADINGuntil you have: 1. Square, who lives in Flatland, a world of two-dimensions, which means length and width, but no depth (just like the Kardashians). Later, A Square dreams of a one-dimensional world called Lineland, where the inhabitants exist as simple points along a straight line, as there is no other width or depth. Sphere takes our flatlander on a mind-expanding, eye opening journey to witness the wonders and mysteries of the higher and higher dimensions (3rd, 4th, 5th, etc.). THOUGHTS: As I sit here, sober and mostly peyote free, I think I enjoyed the ideas and concepts of the story more than the actual plot.
First, it was written back in 1880, when relativity had not yet been invented, when quantum theory was not yet discovered, when only a handful of mathematicians had the courage (yet) to challenge Euclid and imagine curved space geometries and geometries with infinite dimensionality. Quantum theory implements very seriously infinite numbers of dimensions. We may be quite unable to actually perceive the space in which our tiny point is embedded, but our minds are capable of conceiving it, and Abbot's lovely parable is a mind-expanding work to those who choose to read it that way.
A curious little novella about a man a two-dimensional world thinking literally out of the box.
When it comes to genre this book is in its own: let me call it satirical math. The story takes part in a flat country (universe?) where everything has only width and height - in other words, in a flat surface, like a picture. All the women in the country are straight lines and men are equilateral polygons - the more sides, the higher the status in their society. The hero of the tale is a Square. If on the other hand you were at least decent in math and are curious how in can co-exist with satire, go ahead and read it.
Flatland is a mathematical essay, meant to explain a point: that higher dimensions (more than length, depth and width) may be present in our universe, but if they are, it will be nearly impossible for us to understand them. The story itself consists of a two dimensional world (Flatland), in which there are people of assorted shapes.
Here is a story of Square who is a square and lives in a two dimensional world of geometrical figures. If a 2D world was your entire reality you would only be able to see lines and dots. We can see it perfectly when our Square visits a one dimensional land and he laughs at it and tries to explain to the King that there is more to life than just looking at a dot in front of you. There is another dimension where there are not only dots but lines as well. Even though the mathematics tells him there must be another dimension (and another, and another), he cant quite believe it until Sphere shows him a little bit of a 3D world. I thought I could see it but now its been a week after I finished reading the book and had those vivid dreams about the fourth dimension. Just like the poor Square, back in his 2D-Land, thrown in prison for preaching revolution, still believes in the third dimension, but can no longer conjure the image of a Sphere in his head.
Flatland is set in a two-dimensional world and narrated in the first person by a square (or A Square as appears on the original editions book cover). In the first half of the book Square gives us a tour of his world where women are straight lines and, if you are symmetrical, the more sides you have the better. The second half of the book tells the remarkable story of Squares adventures in lands of different dimensions, one, three and even zero (no trip to the fourth dimension, though; no time, probably). However, for Flatland I dont mind making an exception, for once I find the flat characters entirely acceptable and even find the more apparently rounded character to be arrogant and clearly obtuse in their outlook, if not in appearance. One thing that blows my mind a bit is that prior to reading the book I visualized it as a story of different geometric shapes moving around going about their business. However, the denizens of the Flatland cannot actually see these different shapes. As the Square (or Edwin Abbott Abbott) mentions early in the book you have to imagine looking at these shapes with your line of sight on the same level as their surface. So all they really ever see is straight lines of different lengths, however, they can distinguish the different geometrical shapes by hearing, by touch (done by the working class only), and by sight with the aid of fog for estimating depths (different angles appear to fade differently into fog). There is one error in the book where Square mentions a cellar: So I endeavoured to reassure her by some story, invented for the occasion, that I had accidentally fallen through the trap-door of the cellar, and had there lain stunned..
He says Hinton's book is better, and I have managed to locate an online version recently, but have not had time to read it so far.) We live in a world of three dimensions. Square, is living the relatively comfortable life of a country gent until he is snatched up into "Spaceland" by a sphere, a three-dimensional being. The protagonist has a vision of "Lineland", a world of a single dimension: he tries to explain Flatland to the King of that realm, but with little success. Then, our hero has a visit from a Sphere, an inhabitant of "Spaceland", and he faces the same problem in comprehending the third dimension as the king of Lineland had in comprehending the second (later, the Sphere demonstrates the same shortsight when Square moots the possibility of a fourth dimension). Square is transported into Spaceland by Sphere, and suddenly he can see Flatland from the outside: including the inside of the houses and the intestines of the inhabitants, all at the same time! Square also is witness to a parliarmentary meeting where the Sphere makes a surprise appearance, to try to convince the rulers of Flatland about the existence of space, but to no avail. The preaching of space is a state crime in Flatland, with the penalty of either death or life in confinement(according to the social status of the individual)- the ultimate fate of the narrator of the story.
From Biography Base: Edwin Abbott Abbott, English schoolmaster and theologian, is best known as the author of the mathematical satire Flatland (1884). He was educated at the City of London School and at St John's College, Cambridge, where he took the highest honours in classics, mathematics and theology, and became fellow of his college. His theological writings include three anonymously published religious romances - Philochristus (1878), Onesimus (1882), and Sitanus (1906).