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Book Name: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (Oxford World's Classics)

Author: Edwin A. Abbott

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Overall Rating: (4.2/5) View all reviews (total 35 reviews)

Flatlandis one of the very few novels about math and philosophy that can appeal to almost any layperson. Published in 1880, this short fantasy takes us to a completely flat world of two physical dimensions where all the inhabitants are geometric shapes, and who think the planar world of length and width that they know is all there is. But one inhabitant discovers the existence of a third physical dimension, enabling him to finally grasp the concept of a fourth dimension. Watching our Flatland narrator, we begin to get an idea of the limitations of our own assumptions about reality, and we start to learn how to think about the confusing problem of higher dimensions. The book is also quite a funny satire on society and class distinctions of Victorian England.--This text refers to an alternatePaperbackedition.


Where are the illustrations?

by Aaron Wooldridge

I read most of Flatland a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I was happy to see this free Kindle version. But I want to know where the illustrations are? I admit that I am not reading this on an actual Kindle but rather Kindle For Mac. However, the locations of the illustrations are clearly marked and labeled, but there are no illustrations visible. Otherwise, the formatting of this ebook is quite good, and it is much more readable and navigable than are many of these freeby Kindle classics.The book itself is unusual. It is a geometry lesson, a Plato's Cave type philosophical treatise, and a morality tale. But beyond that, it is an early science fiction / fantasy novel. The basic premise is that a 2 dimentional character from a 2 dimensional world is confronted by someone who claims to be from a 3D world. Our protagonist doesn't understand or believe the visitor, so the visitor takes them them to a 1D world and then later to the 3D world. Upon returning to Flatland the protagonist is a changed person. He tries to explain his newfound knowledge to eveyone but is persecuted for it.I recommend this book to anyone interested in early science fiction, but it would be better to pay for a version that is actually illustrated.

No depth

by A.J.

The fantastical setting of Edwin A. Abbott's "Flatland" is one of the most curious in literature: a two-dimensional world in which all the inhabitants are sentient flat shapes which slide around on a plane with no knowledge or conception of a third dimension. However, the book's theme -- the importance of unimpeded scientific inquiry and the danger of denying the possibilities of infinity in all its forms -- is treated with the didacticism of a tendentious theological tract, leaving the reader, who probably was already well aware of the book's implications long before he even heard of the book, gasping for breath.We are introduced to the nature of Flatland by the narrator, a nameless Square, who describes his world as being populated primarily by regular polygons. A citizen's social and occupational status is in direct proportion to his number of sides, so those with so many sides that they approximate circles achieve the highest ranks. These circular elite are dubbed "priests" and rule Flatland apparently on a parliamentary model. At the other end of the spectrum are the Triangles, who constitute the working class. Even lower than the Triangles, however, are the simpleminded Lines -- and these are Flatland's women, useful only for procreation. It takes little imagination to guess what the irregular polygons represent.The Square's purpose in writing this report is to rejoice in his discovery of the (previously unimagined) third dimension, revealed to him by a helpful Sphere who visits from Spaceland. The Square, now in possession of arcane knowledge and an intuitive conviction of the existence of higher dimensions, assumes an evangelical role and ultimately emerges as a Promethean figure when he is imprisoned for the heretical act of preaching a third dimension."Flatland" has been compared to "Alice in Wonderland" and "Gulliver's Travels," but I'd say there are clearer parallels to Huxley's "Brave New World" (in the classist regimentation of the Flatlanders' society) and Samuel Butler's "Erewhon" (in the Flatlanders' strange and limited belief system). The difference is that the aforementioned novels employ both irony to qualify as allegorical satires and narrative integrity to endure as pure fiction, whereas "Flatland" is so earnest in its delivery and so ineffectual in its impact, it feels like a pebble in an avalanche. Too obvious and elementary to be a scientific or mathematical essay, too obtuse to be a philosophical treatise, too moralistic to be a good example of a novel, "Flatland" misses its mark and slips silently through the cracks.

Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" in 2D

by Alex

Although this book was written in the time when Hinton and his pseudo-analyses of higher dimensions ruled the popular masses (mostly as a semi-plausible explanation of the existence of ghosts), it delves a lot deeper into the nature of things, and, as noted above, even delivers a forceful parody of the society.The author of the book is a Square, a perfectly flat creature that lives in a flat society in an ideally 2D world. His four equal sides (irregulars are always killed or imprisoned due to the confusion of recognizing an irregular figure from looking at its side) give him the status of lawyer (the number of sides denotes the social rank). His amazing visions and visitation give this flat and narrow-minded individual the understanding of the worlds outside his own.First is the visit to Line Land, where all persons are lines of different lengths and vision is limited to a single spot. Naturally, bypassing anyone is a geometric impossibility, but, strangely, the denizens of that land live happy lives.Next is the visit of mysterious Lord Sphere, who, due to the lack of dimensionality, has to resort to manifesting himself as his cross-sections which the square can see. He delivers to the Square the Gospel of Three Dimensions, and, when the complacent Square refuses to comprehend, Spherer pulls him out into 3D (i.e. puts him at an angle to his own flat space).Finally, we are given a view of Point Land, inhabited by but a single creature of no dimensions and no coprehension of others beside it, hearing all and attributing all to its own grace and might.The book is extremely sarcastic and acidic: a 2D woman is a straight line, invisible when seen head on ( and lethal if met headfirst due to her sharpness), and is always reduced to constantly emit her Peace Cry. Color is forbidden because it causes too much confusion. Criminals are those whose sides are not equal. Etc. etc., etc.Read this book and stop to think from time to time - this is the sort of book that rewards thought.

An interesting story.

by Amazon Customer "The Old Pilgrim"

This story makes you adjust your mind to try to think in only two dimensions. This alone makes it a good mental exercise, but it is also a good read. A well-done work, but probably not for everyone. I enjoyed it.

Free SF Reader

by Blue Tyson "- Research Finished"

Flat is an exercise in science fiction geometry, if you like. It shows a denizen of a 2 dimensional world seeing what it would be like to exist in higher dimensions. An interesting mathematical and philosophical exercise. Some will definitely find this very odd, and rather quirky. If you don't know what a dimension means in this sense, give it a miss.

It should be required reading in math and social studies

by Charles Ashbacher

This book should be required reading for students in both mathematics and social studies. The explanations by Abbott of how three dimensional beings would appear to a two dimensional creature have never been improved upon. I have seen them reproduced in nearly every book that I have read about space with dimensions more than three. Since we cannot visualize objects in four dimensions, the best that can be done is to describe them mathematically or by using an analogy to the dimensions that we can visualize.However, the book is also a satire about the English social structure of the nineteenth century. Abbott was a champion of the rights of women, so his caricature of females must be read with that fact foremost in mind. His description of the society of Flatland is meant to be a critique of what he saw in an enormously class-conscious England with a distinct privileged class. Read with that foremost in mind, his caricatures of the inhabitants are quite amusing.This is one of the very few books that I have read over three times. It has never failed to keep my interest, containing some of the best teaching analogies ever created. I even read it when it appears paraphrased in books written to describe the principles of space with more than three dimensions. I have no doubt that this is a book that will still be interesting to people thousands of years in the future.

This Book Will Change Your Outlook

by C. Richard

I heard about this book in a chemistry course I took in college I think it was. Several years later I had the chance to read it. I am very glad that I did.Not only does this book give a reader a new perspective in looking at space and maybe even time, but might also be extended to give a new perspective on almost anything. It may show us that at least in many cases, it is how you look at something that can determine what you see.In any case, the book helps readers get an intuitive idea of what 4 (or maybe more as well) spacial dimensions mean. That is not as easy a thing as you might think. Give it a try before you read the book and see. I think that I got at least a glimpse as I neared the end of the book.The author used a method of showing how worlds with fewer than three spacial dimensions might operate, and how a higher dimension being would be perceived by them and vice versa. This concept was used in many respects in Rucker's more recent book SPACELAND - also worth a read if the subject interests you.I have read that Flatland was also originally meant to provide some social commentary, but this may be in large part lost on us today as times have changed I guess. Or maybe not?The book is short and not that mathematically challenging if at all. Give it a try and I promise you will learn something.

did I miss something?

by Cultural Groupie

My dad recommended this book to me & he is really well-read, so I figured it must be good. I guess I missed something though because I found it really boring. I think maybe I'm spoiled by all the very colorful & full fantasy & sci-fi worlds out there because in contrast, this was...well, FLAT. The only reason I read the whole thing was because I was in a foreign country with no internet connection to buy more Kindle books & no English-language paperbacks to be found!!

Classic irony has alot to say about year 2000

by Dawn Merrill

I disagree w/last reviewer. Flatland doesn't just lampoon the 1880's. Victorian is Abbott's writing style. But his social comment is as sharp today as Gulliver, and Screwtape's. If you can't spot the irony the entire book is offensive. If you do spot it, the parallels between say - its women & the current suppression in Afganistan, or education & Chinease purges, or angling up & US college sport programs - are hilarious and bone chilling. Abbot's guesses on equator based navigation are quite accurate. North swimming bacteria actually have a lot in common with the travelers in Flatland.

Some of my best friends are square

by E. R. Bird "Ramseelbird"

The persecution of individuals is an abhorrent way of life in some lands. To be repressed simply for preaching a new view of things. To be imprisoned for your beliefs. I am thinking, at this moment, of one individual in particular who has had to suffer the humiliation of life without parole simply because he chooses to see things in a different way. Should the fact that this person is merely a square (four equal sides and corners) be any kind of an impediment towards our full understanding of him? As a recent convert to three-dimensional worlds, the author of "Flatland" (given, originally, as merely A. Square) describes his own two-dimensional existence as best as he is able. It is hoped that perhaps by publishing this petite memoir of his world and experiences he may shed new light on his predicament and perhaps even win a follower or two.The world of Flatland (as opposed to our own multi-dimensional Spaceland) is a simple one. In it, the more sides an individual has, the (supposedly) greater intelligence and influence. Therefore it stands to reason that circles (which is to say, many sided polygons) rule as priests and all hexagons, squares, triangles, etc. hope to someday ascend or let their children ascend to that most worthy class. Women, sadly, are given short shift. They appear as lines (though the narrator does concede later on that they are perhaps more accurately described as very thin Parallelograms. The narrator goes on to describes how shapes in Flatland recognize one another, what their lives are like, and even gives a bit of brief historical background regarding the great Chromatic Sedition that almost made all shapes equal under the eyes of the law and society. The square then recounts the adventures he had when, in a dream, he approached Lineland and then was visited by a sphere preaching the gospel of the Spaceland. With the discovery of a third dimension the square is given to preaching about this new place to his fellows and, for his efforts, is summarily arrested and cast into prison from whence he writes this book."Flatland" was originally published in 1884, a fact that places some of its odder elements into (ha ha) perspective. Appended with a Preface that accompanied its second revised addition, the "author" (A. Square) responds to those critics that accuse him of classism and sexism. The square admits that years in prison may have, since the publication of the book, given him greater insight into both women AND his "betters". Just the same, it's difficult for a reader today to hear that women are "consequently wholly devoid of brain-power, and have neither reflection, judgement nor forethought, and hardly any memory" and not feel a little put out. On the other hand, we're dealing with some serious satire here, and we should treat the book accordingly. In general, it's a delight. Paving the way for such modern classics as "The Phantom Tollbooth" or even "A Wrinkle In Time" (the latter making at least one direct reference to "Flatland"), the book is a satire in the finest sense of the word. The narrator is, undoubtedly, unreliable which makes the entire book just that much more enjoyable. Author Edwin A. Abbott put an extraordinary amount of effort into this story. As is often the case with authors that slum in fiction, children's literature, or works of humor (right off the top of my head I'm thinking of Gilbert & Sullivan and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), "Flatland" was written as a bit of fluff and ended up (whether Abbott liked it or not) as the author's best known work.Though a lovely concept, this book is perhaps best read by teens and adults rather that kids. I'm not saying that there won't be the spectacularly brainy ten year old who's a fan of both Math AND English and speeds through this book like butter. I'm just saying that such a child is in the minority and that you probably shouldn't foist a tale that contains such sentences as "Now, all our lines are equally and infinitesimally thick (or high, whichever you like): consequently, there is nothing in them to lead our minds to the conception of that Dimension". You get the picture. One fact I discovered to my own delight was that this book does not, in fact, require a firm grasp on geometry. It couldn't hurt, and I'm sure you'll get quite a lot more out of it than if you've heard of angles or circumferences, but it's not a prerequisite for enjoying this tale. As long as you've a certain amount of imagination and a will to suspend disbelief, you should be in the clear.The Saturday Review of Literature once said that Flatland was, "One of the best things of its kind ever written". This seems to me to be somewhat backhanded praise since very few "things of its kind" HAVE ever been written. And shouldn't it be unequivocally be pronounced the best by default alone? To my mind, the book's well worth the reading. It deserves its praise and should be remembered amongst the best of the fantastical satires ("Gulliver's Travels" for example). It's a short book too, so you've really no excuse for not reading it. A delightful dip into the unknown.

A sci-fi classic about life in two dimensions

by gac1003 "gac1003"

Flatland is a two-dimensional unvierse, inhabited not by people as we know them, but by shapes - triangles, polygons, circles, etc. The narrator, A. Square, introduces the readers to the customs, class distinctions (based on geometric shape), male and female roles, how to tell one another apart, and on general life living in a world of only two dimensions. Square's life is turned upside down when, on the eve of the new millenium, a strange visitor literally drops into his home. This visitor - a Sphere - has chosen Square as his apostle to teach the two-dimensional masses about how more to life there is beyond their flat world view.At first glance, this comes across as a novel about higher math: geometry, 2- and 3-dimensions, the possiblity of higher cimensions after the third, etc. Author Edwin Abbott examines and illustrates what life would be like living in such flat world, in which everyone resembles a straight line - whether the "person" is a circle, a triangle, or a square - because only one side of them can be seen. On a deeper level, though, Abbott offers a scathing parody of Victorian society. (After all, the book was first published in the late 1880s.) Class distinction based on birth is rampant. The "lower" beings, such as isocoles triangles and irregular shapes, live in shame and are looked down upon by society. They will never attain the good paying jobs or respectability that those shapes with more sides have. Women are seen as merely lines, very dangerous to society, though, so they must be kept uneducated. Their main purpose is to help their male counterparts achieve higher and higher status through breeding.Quite a remarkable book for its time.

Upward, not Northward

by Geert Daelemans

A. Square is a rather exceptional member of Flatland, a world that only has two dimensions. He not only dreams about a one-dimensional world, but also dares to question the limitation of having only two dimensions. Being a polygon himself, he will never truly understand the magic of Spaceland, but his unbound imagination lets him travel beyond what others call their `space'. When he finally succeeds in going "Upward, not Northward" he gets convinced that he has a message to give to the other members of Flatland. But will the others accept his prophecy?Flatland is a truly remarkable piece of literature. Not only makes is philosophy and mathematics accessible for the common reader, it also gives evidence of Abbott's visionary mind. Written in 1884 this book introduces the readers to concepts that will prove to become very `hot' more than 100 years later. Mathematicians of today who have no theory about the number of dimensions are almost considered to be unfaithful to their science.This is simply a must-read for everybody who likes to fantasize about dimensions and what the world would look like if we could see beyond our known dimensions.

Fifty Years later I finally read it.

by Gloria

Years ago an excellent mathematics teacher tried to motivate me and suggested that I read Flatlands. Unfortunately i was not ready to be motivated, but now fifty years later bought the Kindle version. Edwin A Abbott's satire is stil fairly accurate 100 years after it was first published. It is a quick read, and an enjoyable ride.

Boring At Best

by Jack

The thesis of this piece was very appealing to me, but it just did not deliver. I know those who thoroughly enjoyed it, but I can't imagine why.

A Valuable Idea for Science and Math Teachers

by Jan Peczkis "Scholar and Thinker"

Abbott, the author, has the reader imagine three-dimensional structures from a distant horizontal perspective. The third dimension becomes unimportant, and can be dispensed with completely. Taking this further, we are left with a "society" of circles, triangles, and other 2-D geometric figures, all living in Flatland.As a science and math teacher, I found this book an inspiration for thought-provoking questions, such as: How would you describe the sphere to someone living in Lineland or Flatland? How, for that matter, would you communicate the very concept of thickness to someone living in Flatland? Or volume?Visualize a sphere crossing Flatland. It starts as a point, then a circle of expanding diameter, then a circle of decreasing diameter, then a point, and then finally nothing. Other 3-D figures can be visualized in comparable manner. The possibilities are endless!

When a good idea goes bad...

by Jill-Elizabeth (Jill Franclemont) "All Things...

Flatlandwas one of my finds on my recent short-novels hunt. I was intrigued by the premise - a comparative story of different lands, each of which features a different number of dimensions - and by the fact that its author had written the book in the 1800s, long before Einstein's theory of relativity and theories of time as the fourth dimension were common parlance. It was written by a non-mathematician and non-scientist. And it was only 75 pages long! I figured I had all the ingredients for a great, interesting, informative - and above all else, quick - read. Not so, she said. It took me forever to finish this extraordinarily short book, and it was a huge disappointment. It was rambling, overly technical (I do grudgingly have respect for this aspect, even if I did not enjoy the book overall), and (no pun intended) oddly flat.

Fiction about mathematics and dimension--lots of fun

by Joanna Daneman

Here is a book on the principles of dimension in mathematics that is fun to read, but explains the principles so well. Flatland is a classic dating back to 1880, but reads like a delightful fairy tale. It thoroughly explains the concepts of lines, planes and the limitations of our dimensions in space.There is some amusing stuff here; the author is apparently a misogynist --women in Flatland are needle-thin, (well, that's not all bad) stupid, because of the size of their pointy heads (hey!) and violently dangerous due to their shape and lack of higher reasoning power.Despite poking fun at females, this book is amusing and valuable since it can teach some great math prinicples. There is a "sequel" Sphereland published in the 20th century by a different author, that goes into dimensions higher than 3. It's fun, too. As an explanantion of the concept of dimension, plus for imagination, Flatland is a real classic and a favorite of mine.

Mathematics, Social Commentary & Theology

by Joel E. Mitchell "A Bibliophile"

This book, narrated by 'a square', explores what life in a two-dimensional world would be like. The first half of the book which describes Flatland's society is not only interesting sci-fi worldbuilding, but is a biting satire on Victorian society.In the second half, the narrator meets a three-dimensional being from Spaceworld (our world) and has visions of one-dimensional Lineworld and no-dimensional Pointworld. The recurring effort of explaining additional dimensions to a being who cannot see, feel, or even imagine them brings up interesting questions about faith/spirituality/religion. Even though this book was written over 125 years ago it remains fascinating and thought-provoking.

Unimaginable Dimensions

by Jon Linden

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.

Cool Sci-Fi Book

by Justyn

This was an interesting book about how a 2-D square sees the world. It had some odd things happen like Demonic laughter, and other odd things.Basically it goes to 0-D, 1-D, and 3-D, and sees different things there as his sphere guide takes him around those dimensions.

While I have reservations about the social satire, this is on the whole a unique, ingenious, delightful book. Recommended

by Juushika

A square living in a two-dimensional plane explains his ingenious world, and his revelatory introduction to lands of fewer--and more--dimensions. I have fond memories of reading this book as a child, but this was my first time revisiting it since then--and it was quite an experience. What I remembered best is a brillaint, unique concept, and that's still there: there's nothing else out there like Flatland, a world that appears utterly alien but is in fact too well-realized to be unfamiliar. It's ingenious, and a delight to rediscover. Yet this slim volume offers more than that idea alone. About half the book is given over to infuriating social satire, which I'd forgotten about completely. The satire isn't always obvious as such: Flatland's society has an extreme view of the misogyny, classicism, and essentialism present in our own (and particularly in Abbott's Victorian era), but the sad truth is that it's not a grand exaggeration--and it's presented so blandly that it reads more like an unfortunate relic of prejudice than any sort of social commentary. As such, I worry that the satire may go over the heads of younger readers (I can't remember if it went over mine) and would be taken at face value; regardless, it feels almost out of place--not that it doesn't have moments of keen, even painful, insight, but it is quite disparate from the fascinating physics lesson that fills the rest of the book.To wit, the other half of the book is a novel exploration of dimension, verifying and exploring the existence of four or more dimensions by exploring two and fewer. It may not render comprehensible the incomprehensible, but it's a strong argument for some sort of world greater than the one we know. Meanwhile, the dimensions explored by our narrator the square are fascinating. Abbott succeeds by taking his concept to its furthest extent: the lines and shapes have unusual societies which are greatly influenced by the nature and limitations of their worlds, surprisingly simple diagrams help the reader to enter these unusual lands himself, and Abbott often anticipates--and then answers--the questions and doubts that surround his strange ideas. He takes what seems to be a pure mathematical novelty and renders it from a dynamic, convincing first-person perspective--and while it remains just one imaginative interpretation of the issue at hand, it's a brilliant one and a great read. Abbott's voice can tend towards stilted and dated, but Flatland's combination of breadth and brevity nonetheless make it compelling. This may not be precisely the book that I remember, but it provides what I loved and remembered best: something ingenious and brilliantly realized, something intriguing and delightful and thought-provoking. I take more issue with Flatland now than I did then, but I find it fascinating above all and so recommend it despite lingering reservations.

A Multi-Demensional Story of Two Dimensions!

by Kevin Currie-Knight

Edwin Abbott's "Flatland" is a story that can be read as many things: as an Orwellian satire on The State, as a contemplation of dimensions (even ones we do not know yet), as a philosophical variation of Plato's Cave, or simply as a delightful sci-fi story.Flatland is broken up into two parts. The first sees our main character (a square who is a mathemetician - how cute!) telling us - those who live in "spaceland" - about the ins and outs of flatland. He teaches us both about how life is lived as a two dimensional object, explaining such things as how one can recognize by sight a squre from a hexagon without being able to see the angles. Also, the square explains how flatland's class and government system works: how women, for instance, are inferior to men and do not attend school, how polygons are superior to lowly squares and triangles, and how the circles make the laws.It is this first section that is both a savy critique on government and the then prevailing social mores. Also, this seciton is fascinating from a mathematical point of view, answering questions that the astute reader is bound to have. (How, for instance, is sight possible in two dimensions?)The second section of the book is where stuff gets even more intersting. This is the section where our square mathemetician both finds himself (in a dream) having to explain the concept of a second dimension to a "linelander", and is visited by a "spacelander" who must try to convince our "flatlander" that a third dimension is possible.This section is most interesting from a philosophical perspective. How, for instance, is it possible to explain a third dimension to one who only knows two dimensions? To the flatlander, terms like "up," "down," "above," "below," "vertical," (etc.) have no meaning as they presuppose knowledge of a third dimension. That is, can a spacelander use "two diemsional language" (language presupposing no familiarity with any but two dimensions) to explain a third dimension? (Edwin Abbot thinks he can, but the astute reader will notice Abbott's linguistic fallacy in how he brought this about!)At any rate, it is this part of the book that can also be seen as a variation on Plato's Cave. (Plato's Cave analogizes us to people looking at the back wall of a cave open at the other end, who see only shadows of objects outside the cave, but who are convinced that what they see is the real things.) That is, "Flatland" very beautifully articulates the idea of someone realizing that what they assumed was a complete view of reality was only a partial view of reality. And now, the flatlander bears the burden of trying to convince other flatlanders that the reality they take for granted as "all there is," is, in fact, not a complete view of reality at all.Can he do it? Will he run into the same linguistic stumbling block already spoken of? More interestingly, if the "linelander" was wrong in assuming only one dimension, and the "flatlander" was wrong in assuming only two dimensions, might the "spacelander" be wrong in assuming only three dimensions, and so on? And how, if possible, could we find out?These questions and more are artfully and skillfully broached in Edwin Abbott's mathematical classic "Flatland." Even if all you want is an intersting science fiction book, "Flatland" will do the trick. But for those who want a great "thinking" novel, "Flatland" is an outstanding choice!

Illustrations would help on Kindle

by Kyle L. Rhynerson "Fortitudine Vincimus"

I'm not the best with spatial visualization, so this book taxed my mind a little bit especially since the Kindle edition doesn't include any illustrations.I thought the book did a good job of forcing you to think outside your own world.

Classic romance and satire

by magellan

Besides being a "Romance" about higher and lower dimensions, and the ingenious way in which Abbott uses geometry to show us the limitations imposed by our own limited world view, this is also a very pointed social satire about Victorian England.For example, in the main character's flatlander universe of two dimensions, one's intellect and social class are determined by the number of sides you have as a polygon. If I recall correctly (it being 35 years since I read it--someone please correct me if I err in the details) workers have three sides and are triangles, the middle class consists of squares, and the professionals and the nobility have five sides or more. But basically the principle is, the more sides you have, the higher up the social scale you are.Therefore, the king of this odd dimension has so many sides he is basically a circle. Then there are the women, who are virtually straight lines, pointed at each end, which basically means they have no intelligence at all! Furthermore, if a woman bumps into a "higher" polygon she will puncture their side and instantly kill them. This means women are both the dumbest and most dangerous creatures in this strange dimension. If a woman is coming at you straight on, she is essentially invisible, and you can bump into her without knowing she is even there and accidently kill yourself. Hence, there is a law requiring women, when they are out and about, to make a lot of noise so that other polygons will be able to avoid impaling themselves.Anyway, as you can see, there is a lot of vicious social satire in this short work. The author's satirical portrayal of social class issues and especially of women is even more prescient in view of social developments over the next 100 years, at least in the west.

A delightful sci-fi classic

by Michael J. Mazza

"Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions," by Edwin A. Abbott, is a marvelous tale that I regard as a pioneering piece of science fiction. According to the introductory note in the Dover edition, Abbott was an English scholar and clergyman, and the book was first published under a pseudonym in 1884. The book is enhanced by the author's own delightful illustrations."Flatland" is told in the first person by an intelligent square who lives in a fantastic two-dimensional world. He describes in fascinating detail his own world of Flatland, going into such topics as architecture, war, genetics, medical arts, law, and family values. Particularly fascinating is his account of his society's rigid stratification by class and gender. The square tells of his visions of zero- and one-dimensional worlds, and of his life-changing contact with the three-dimensional world.Abbott succeeds in a task attempted with varying success by generations of science fiction writers since him: he creates an alternate world which is utterly alien, yet disturbingly familiar--a world that is complete and consistently compelling. "Flatland" could certainly be read as a satire of Abbott's own world; parts of it are laugh-out-loud hilarious. Whimsical yet possessing a biting edge, this is a brilliantly conceived and wonderfully written book. For a companion text, try A.K. Dewdney's "The Planiverse" (also about contact between two- and three-dimensional worlds); also try Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" (an equally intriguing view of a stratified sci-fi culture).

"To the Secrets of Four, Five, or Even Six Dimensions"

by OAKSHAMAN "oakshaman"

This is a book, indeed a fable, that was exquisitely designed to expand the mind. By showing how incomprehensible a three-dimensional world would be to two-dimensional entities, Abbott opens the door, and the mind, to speculation on higher dimensions. That is why the principles of this story are summarized in virtually every text dealing with the 4th dimension.I believe Abbott framed this tale primarily to serve as a philosophical and mathematical justification of spiritual and "heavenly" subjects. After all, if a Sphere seemed a supernatural entity in Flatland, would not a 4th Dimensional entity seem so to us? I suspect that Mr. Abbott was also a Freemason, since the "regular progression of science from a point to a line, from a line to a superficies, from a superficies to a solid" is the way Freemasonry explains the process by which the Deity brings the four levels of existance into being. Actually, this is a neo-platonic teaching device that can be traced through the literature of the Renaissance, via medieval Spain, to Alexandria....An examination of Theosophical Society literature from this period will also show a fascination with the 4th dimension as an explanation for spirit phenomena. Personally, I believe that this train of thought is still a quite valid analogy.I found this book a joy to read, but then, I was trained in classical Euclidian geometry and formal proofs as a boy. I understand that such training is quite extinct in most modern public schools....

Great read for math and science lovers.

by Owen Sage "Roy Huff"

I read this book in 9th grade. It was interesting and captivating. It perked my interest in math and physics. After reading this book, I went on a time travel kick and never went off. An interesting approach to math and science set in a fictional world. Advanced concepts, but worth the read!

Political commentary or geometry primer?

by Peter Monks

Is "Flatland" an imaginative geometry textbook/primer or a perceptive social satire of Victorian England? Either way, it is an entertaining and ingenious read, even if I have encountered it far too late in life for it to make me see things (either geometrical or social) from a completely different perspective! At least a vague interest in geometry is probably required to really enjoy "Flatland", and if you are the sort of reader who will get really upset that the female shapes aren't considered equal to the males you probably won't appreciate the subtle social commentary, either. With those caveats in mind, recommended as a diverting read.

A great intro. to dimensionality and speculative fiction.

by R. D. Allison (dallison@biochem.med.ufl.edu)

This classic short novel is centered about intelligent beings that live in only two dimensions. One of the inhabitants, Mr. Square, describes his world and visits a one-dimensional world. He later encounters beings from the third dimension. Mr. Square finally considers even higher dimensions. This tale by Edwin A. Abbott (1839-1926), an English clergyman and academic, has become quite popular with those physicists and mathematicians who study higher dimensions. It is also regarded as a classic in the development of speculative fiction. I really enjoyed reading it. I've had a copy on my shelf for over forty years and I have never met a Ph.D. in physics (or math for that matter) who has not read it. Any student of the development of science fiction should also have a copy.

Dimensional Difference in Perspective

by R. Pokkyarath

You start appreciating the beauty of this work once you understand the context in which it was written and once you realize that it was written in the 19th century by a teacher for pedestrian consumption. The folks back then were probably not throwing around the word 'Dimensions' in everyday conversations as we do today.It would be an exaggeration to say that I shed three dimensional tear drops for our Square, the Galileo of the two dimensional world who had to face the Inquisition led by the Circles and Polygons. But I hope he will take solace in the fact that I'm now a thorough convert to the Gospel of Infinite-Dimensions. Though I do have to admit there is an occasional relapse during my showers, when I find myself singing along with the monarch of the PointLand:"Ah, the joy, ah, the joy of Thought! What can It not achieve by thinking!Its own Thought coming to Itself, suggestive of Its disparagement, thereby to enhance Its happiness!Sweet rebellion stirred up to result in triumph!Ah, the divine creative power of the All in One! Ah, the joy, the joy of Being!"

Fun, even for the layman.

by Shawn

Well, here is an interesting book. I don't remember how it ended up on my list, someone talked about it a long time ago. It is really just a mental exercise in visualizing dimension and understanding perspective. It is wrapped as a story, of sorts.It is not an exciting book, nor one with a life meaning or excellent craft, but it has some interesting ideas. I will not think of dimension the same way again.On the other hand, I rarely find myself contemplating dimensions, lines, space, angles, and perspective.It was a decently fun read.

Wisdom for pennies

by Theodore Shulman

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.If you find Part One too slow or cerebral, skip to the beginning of Part Two which is much more dramatic and eventful.

FLATLAND by Edwin A. Abbott

by thepaxdomini

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is an 1884 novella written and illustrated by Edwin A. Abbott. Here, a square that lives in a two-dimensional world relates his experiences there along with his travels in one- and three-dimensional worlds.The social classes of the country of Flatland are described in such a way as to lampoon the Victorian social hierarchy. Every inhabitant of Flatland is devoted to climbing the social ladder; order is prized more than liberty; women belong to a lower class of their own. Abbott here is not particularly subtle in his criticisms, and one must imagine that the narrow thinkers that accused Abbott of misogyny really must not have been paying very close attention (these are the nineteenth-century analogs of people who think Stephen Colbert is really a conservative).This dated aspect of the tale may not have particular relevance for a modern audience, but Flatland still has plenty of value. Abbott's one- and two-dimensional worlds are impressively imaginative and quite well thought-out. Flatland is immersive, and along the way, Abbott manages to work in a number of profound thoughts on existence.Flatland's lasting legacy is its discussion of dimensions. Just as Abbott takes the reader through the two-dimensional square's travails in comprehending a third dimension, so the reader is challenged to imagine a fourth. And Abbott does an excellent job of this, whether one considers this fourth dimension as time (as per general relativity) or an extra aspect of space (this is quite a bit harder to imagine). It also works if you consider the tale an allegory for God and the spiritual realm (Abbott was a rather prodigious theologian), which is not by any means a stretch given the "preaching" done in the story. In any case, it's marvelously thought-provoking.On the whole, Flatland is a well-imagined, well-reasoned, stimulating work.

A Flat Out Fun Read

by W.C. VandenBerg

Certainly the saving graces of this little gem are its brevity and Abbot's creativity. Much more of the descriptions of life in Flatland would have bordered on tedium. However, the explanation for the banishment of color in Flatland was very clever and one of the better parts of the story. As it is, it's a humorous, demure satire in the Swiftian vein whereby the protagonist, A. Square, teaches us about his world, has a series of adventures, and learns lessons about life (and mathematics) along the way.I question its value as a teaching tool, though. I fear the Victorian niceties employed in the exposition will seem stilted and nigh unbearable to today's younger audience, especially if assigned as schoolwork. But, I think those who already grasp the mathematics involved (basic geometry) will enjoy it. Also, A. Square's unabashed enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge are qualities one would happily encourage in students.My favorite part of the whole book has got to be the visit to the King of Pointland. The way Abbot so succinctly portrays humanity's capacity to ignore evidence that does not conform to preconceived notions, then force the facts to fit long established beliefs is a stroke of genius. In Pointland, ignorance really is bliss.This little tale definitely provided excellent entertainment for the price I paid here at Amazon. If it sounds interesting to you, I suggest putting it on your wish list, and then adding it to the next purchase you make (your wallet will barely feel it).

Understand Multi-Dimensional Worlds

by William J. Romanos

This book is often recommend by theoretical physicists and mathematicians (most often mathematicians involved in hyperdimensional topology) to their students.It was written by a Shakespeare scholar in Britain more than 100 years ago. The reason it is recommended by theoretical physicists, etc., is it provides the reader with a framework for understanding and trying to visualize dimensions above or beyond our ordinary four-dimensional world (length, width, heighth, space-time).It deals with a two dimensional world with two dimensional beings and what happens when a third dimensional being interacts with a two dimensional world and what the two dimensional beings would see. It also does this in terms of a one dimensional being and one dimensional world interacting with a two dimensional world and two dimensional beings (or structures).This book written with apparently some intent on commenting on Victorian England and its values (with what appeared to me to have some misogynistic comments within it), was otherwise an enjoyable book and really does provide a good analysis on multi-dimensional view points and visualizing or imagining hyper-dimensions.If you are interested in advanced theoretical physics, hyperdimensional geometry or topology or mathematics, this is a very interesting book and may be useful. If you are just interested in a good unique science fiction story, I would highly recommend this. This is not an (explicit) math or science book - so you won't find any explicit mathematics (i.e., no math is required).Excellent.

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