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The Annotated Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions Hardcover – 15 Nov 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 15 Nov 2001

Man Booker International Prize 2017
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Perseus Books; Annotated edition edition (15 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738205419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738205410
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 19.7 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,158,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"Stewart... is renowned for his popular science books, but Why Beauty is Truth is without a doubt the finest." Nature "Stewart, long a class act in popular maths, does not shy from presenting equations, illuminating them with imagistic explanations and sympathetic character sketches of heroes past and present." Guardian "I resorted to hiding (Why Beauty is Truth) from other members of the family until I'd finished and am confident that those on the 'waiting list' will not be disappointed. Inspirational." TLS"

About the Author

Edwin A. Abbott was born in London on December 20, 1838. Educated in St. John’s College in Cambridge, he was ordained in 1862 and three years later was appointed headmaster of the City of London School, where he served until 1889. Abbott wrote over fifty books, most of them scholarly works. He died in Hampstead on October 12, 1926.

Ian Stewart is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick and Director of its Mathematics Awareness Centre. His many books include Why Beauty Is Truth, Nature’s Numbers, Does God Play Dice? , and Letters to a Young Mathematician. He lives in Warwick, England.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Abbott's Flatland will always remain a classical inspiration for our understanding of higher-dimensional spaces. In drawing the analogy of the way that two dimensional people understand three dimensional space, Abbott allows the reader to ponder ways of investigating higher-dimensional space without the baggage of mathematical formalism.
However as Abbott's age and background are firmly rooted in the latter half of the 19th century, it would be thought that the finer nuances alluded to by the author would pass into obscurity. Here, the ingenuity of Ian Stewart comes to the fore. Prof Stewart refreshes Abbott's text with his annotations, detailing every minuscule reference that Abbott makes in his 19th century world. The result is an informed invigoration of a classic and opens more paths to inspiration in diverse disciplines such as theology and partical physics.
The book does require at least two readings; once for the story itself to bring alive the narrative of A Square, the second to fit in the background provided by Stewart around the story. One could almost say that Stewart uses a fourth dimension of time to expand a three dimensional tale that belongs in more dimensions.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One might think that all the comprehensive annotations are superfluous or far off-topic. Well, in a way they are ;), but it's actually the very stuff you'd be googling sooner or later yourself - if you're the reflective/contemplative type, that is. Which you probably are, if you already intend to buy this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very nice edition and a quality one and a very interesting book especially for mathematicians!And the commentary very helpfull.
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My son-in-law has been wanting to read this for years. Now he can.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.2 out of 5 stars 31 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Annotations add a whole new "dimension" 28 May 2017
By rkass - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I have many beautifully designed "annotated" editions of classic literature, I often find to annotations to be primarily a distraction, and I am very selective about which ones I read. In this affordably priced annotated Flatland, however, the annotations add a whole new dimension (sorry) to the experience of this short book that has fascinated me since I was in school, decades ago. For those already familiar with the book, I recommend reading each chapter uninterrupted, then going back and reading all of the annotations before moving on to the next chapter. The annotations are fascinating and really help to put Flatland in the context of the intellectual discussions of the time in which it was written.
72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intellectual Fun with Commentary 2 Jun. 2002
By Timothy Haugh - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Flatland is a novel originally published in 1884 by Edwin A. Abbott. It is told from the point of view of A. Square, that four-sided resident of the titular country. The first part of the book consists of a description of what it is like to live in a two-dimensional world. The second part concerns A. Square's encounter with a sphere and his subsequent "visions" of pointland, lineland and spaceland.
The purpose of this novel is two-fold: to introduce the casual reader into the concepts of multi-dimensional spaces (i.e. what will become the concept of four dimensional space-time) and to provide social commentary on Victorian society. I cannot comment much on what he achieves in terms of opening the eyes of the Victorian reader to the ills of that society; however, I find his ability to illuminate the concepts of dimensionality extra-ordinary. As a math and physics teacher, I am always looking for ways to open my students' minds to visualizing what they are doing. Even after well over 100 years, few people have approached Abbott's clarity in helping people visualize the difference between different dimensions. One of the best examples: a square only "looks" like a square to someone who can see in three dimensions. A square itself, trapped in a plane, would see another square (or, indeed, any figure) only as a line. This leads to intriguing thoughts on what creatures who live in higher dimensions than our own see as they look at us.
Of course, the story of Flatland alone is wonderful but Stewart's annotation and commentary take the book to another level. On nearly every page, Stewart offers insight and background into the text. Unable to resist the pun: he added another dimension to the book. Having read Flatland many years ago and enjoyed it, I felt I understood the book much better this time around with Stewart's help. Anyone with an interest in math and physics should not pass up the opportunity to read this edition of Flatland.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Combines math with magic and fun! 20 Jun. 2006
By Steve Reina - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With the Alice in Wonderland books, the late 1800s seem to have been the time for really creative mathemetical writing.

Although not as frequently read, Flatland, the Edwin Abbott Abbott story of a little square coming to understanding that higher dimensions do indeed exist outside his world is a delightful read. For those seeking to understand what life is like in other dimensions, Flatland is very comprehensible with clear writing and simple, easy to understand illustrations that help drive home Abbott's points.

Originally written with many sly references to the then existing state of British culture, Abbott's invitation to try and understand higher dimensions was also an invitation to society of his time to try to re think its views on a myriad of issues...including its openness to women in education.

In this way, Abbott converted viewing higher dimensions into both a mathematical and social challenge...points Stewart was sensitive to in his annotations and his own homage, Flatterland.

Although other editions of this work exist, the annotated Flatland is the one to buy both because of its faithful reproduction of the original and its thought provoking and helpful footnotes that give the work broader meaning.
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone interested in mathematics, hyperspace, and philosophy 29 Dec. 2015
By Lucky - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A beautiful tale exploring mathematics, womens rightd, dimensions, Victorian society, and so much more. Many people read this book without understanding that the treatment of females in flatland is an observation of flawed Victorian ideals and not the literal beliefs of the author. I suggest the annotated version for readers who do not have the previous knowledge to fully understand the concepts presented in this revolutionary classic.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stewart's Annotations add to an already impressive pedigree 21 Nov. 2013
By Garrett Mccutcheon - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The core story of Flatland is certainly starting to show signs of its age, but Ian Stewart does a phenomenal job of reviving the relevance of Flatland and it's inhabitants. Stewart does an excellent job of providing both historical context as well as discussing how Abbott's ideas foreshadowed, predicted, or influenced modern mathematical developments. The mathematics and analogy Abbott and Stewart use are equally useful to the mathematically inept and the mathematically adept. Entertaining and educational.
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