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on 12 October 2002
That better understanding comes from simplicity is well known. But this axiom is taken to new heights here!
On the one level this is a cool and very amusing exposee of dimensionality. But on another far more fascinating level, it is a brilliant critique of humanity - of society and its norms and rules. How ridiculous our behaviour must look to beings eyeing us from a 4th dimension!
This book is not just intelligent, it is also funny!
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on 7 March 2017
A Classic bought as gift.
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on 18 May 2017
I'm reviewing the "printed by Amazon" edition of the book with light violet cover and an image of a lady.

The book I've received is below any possible expectations you could think of, I don't think it can even be called a book. The cover consists of a Word-art-style text and a picture so enlarged you could count the pixels. Inside, the book is badly formatted and looks like a copy-paste from somewhere else. "Printed by Amazon" tells you all.
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on 31 August 2016
Flatland is a great book - don't get me wrong. But this edition is a very low quality, print-on-demand, Project Guttenberg generated copy with no illustrations and bad formatting.

Do yourself a favour and get a better edition.
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on 22 August 2007
A. Square (!), trying to work out what it might be like as a cube, while we of 3 dimensions watch him and ultimately pine with him for even more dimensions. The author is clearly barmy, and a legend. And not only does it leave you in a happily confused state of mind, trying desperately to understand the nature of space, there's also some hilarious satire, and purely inspired explanations for how the whole thing would work. Although the style is sometimes difficult to follow, and it is a bit too short, Flatland is certainly worth a read.
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on 5 June 2006
This is a book that took complex ideas and presented them well at a time when the science was not widely understood. Written as a satire on the victorian society where the author lived it still chalenges some of our modern prejudices.

Consider also reading Flatterland by Ian Stewart, which brings the ideas into a modern context
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on 18 July 2002
I think the hundreds of reviews preceding this one sum up the book pretty well, so I won't recap it all here. I just wanted to point out that the reviewer who thought that Flatland was a religious allegory, with the Sphere as Jesus has defintely missed the point - Sphere is one of a line (no pun intended) of all too fallible and very much human characters who we meet in the book, illustrating one of its sharpest ironic points (I just can't help myself now).
The first is the Point, utterly convinced, in the teeth of all the evidence, of the non-existence of everything but itself. Then we meet (in a dream) the King of Lineland, who prefers to believe that the Square is a mutant woman, rather than believe in a two-dimensional space (I promise I'm not making this up). Then we have A. Square, our narrator, who has to be forced to accept the reality of three dimensions by being forcibly removed from Flatland.
And, almost at the end of the book, the Sphere, who, until now has seemed to represent enlightened wisdom, shows his own flaws, by reacting angrily and petulantly to the suggestion of fourth, fifth or higher dimensions.
The Sphere is definitely not meant to be divine - he's just as limited in vision as all the other characters. I hardly think that a clergyman would be so unflattering about Jesus.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 2 August 2010
I came to this odd little gem via Carl Sagan's Cosmos (Cosmos [DVD] [1980). Sagan uses an apple - gleefully slicing and printing, rather poorly, circular sections with it - to illustrate Abbot's ideas on how one might begin to think extra-dimensionally.

A clergyman and teacher, Abbot's work is a both a gentle satire on the society of the time, and a philosophical/religious parable. Not being religious I was worried I might be subjected to some kind of intellectual contortionist act akin to that of Philip Gosse's Omphalos. But Abbot's ideas tap far deeper roots than would either a mere allegory of Christian religion (cf. C. S. Lewis' Narnia series), or even a pithy social critique. For my money it's as a philosophical nugget that this tiny but beguiling book punches well above its apparent weight, reminding us - like Hume's 'Dialogue & History of Natural Religion' (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, and The Natural History of Religion (Oxford World's Classics)) that - if we take ourselves as the measure of everything, we're likely to severely miscalculate in many important areas. I'm not sure what Abbott would make of my reading of his work, but I find it stimulates my mind rather towards scientific paradigm shifts, like the cosmological re-orderings of Copernicus and Galileo, or Darwin's fundamental rewriting of the history of life on earth, than religious ones.

It's tricky territory, and, rather like the pervasive fogs that fill Flatland, it can be hard to keep the bigger philosophical ideas that lurk here in focus. On one level (which of Abbot's levels this might correspond to I can't be sure) this can be read as a Victorian appeal to retain a religious sense of 'our place' in 'creation', alongside a simultaneous appeal to our potential faith in the unseen 'spiritual' dimension. But on another, and to my mind deeper (or more 'dimensional') level, it's also a thought experiment concerning how humans are stuck in the matrix of their own physical/mental modes of perception, and that's an exciting area for thought. Some may read this in the modern parlance of 'n-dimensional' terminology, and think of quantum worlds, whilst others may be draw more towards the cognitive/conceptual aspects of these ideas.

There's a point in the book (the pun's unavoidable), where the Sphere shows the Square a view of Pointland, where there are no dimensions, in which a single consciousness buzzes continuously to itself: able only to perceive itself, all else is merely an aspect of it's self. The square and the sphere are horrified by the introspective solipsism of the point, the Sphere sternly declaiming, somewhat contradictorily: "Behold yon miserable creature... mark his perfect self-contentment, and hence learn this lesson... to be self-contented is to be vile and ignorant... to aspire is better than to be blindly and impotently happy". This passage puts aspirations to contentment, which most if not all of us no doubt pursue much of our lives, however ineffectually, in an interesting light.

A very short but stimulating and pleasurable read, highly recommended.
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on 29 April 2008
Written over 100 years ago and narrated by the solid A Square, Flatland is a brilliant fantasy about a life in a two-dimensional world at the same time as a witty satire on the Victorian view of an ordered society and a call for a wider view of life. As well as a tour of Flatland, complete with its perfect and revered circles, noble polygons and criminal isosceles triangles (not to mention the foolishly linear women) , Mr Square also guides us on his excursions into lineland and pointland before admitting the revelation vouchsafed to him on his journey into the world of three dimensions. As Mr Square himself puts it "I exist in hope that these memoirs ... may find their way to the minds of humanity in Some Dimension, and may stir up a race of rebels who shall refuse to be confined to limited Dimensionality"
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on 27 November 2001
If you've ever tried to imagine a "fourth" (or even higher) dimension, this little gem is for you.
Square is an inhabitant of an infinite flat plane (hence the title of the book) whose inhabitants, flat shapes, are totally unaware of the existence of a third "upward" dimension completely different from their north-south and east-west ones. Sphere, from our world, views Flatlanders as ignorant, and tries to show Square the delights of higher dimensions, as well as showing him the "squalor" of his lower dimensional "lineland" and "pointland" cousins...
There is a delightful class system which ranks flatlanders according to how many sides they have (circles are regarded as the highest class of clergymen) but all women are straight lines, indicating the somewhat Victorian outlook of the author. Also interesting is Sphere's hypocritical reluctance to accept a fourth dimension, as Square refused to accept a third.
Charming and simple, this book really makes you think about the nature of space itself (not an easy task!)
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