18 September, 2012

Flatland by Edwin Abbott (1884)

Mathematical fiction. Who knew? Flatland is a short, simple novel with hand-drawn illustrations about a society of shapes living on a flat plane. And it is mind-blowing. This is a startling allegory of the Victorian class system and a stark portrayal of how society handles heretical ideas, namely that there may be dimensions that exist outside our known experience. My enthusiasm however, comes with one significant caveat: women are unashamedly treated as unintelligent second-class citizens in this book. After publication Abbott sought to explain this as a satire of sorts, but I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced.