1,000 Books To Read Before You Die, the life-changing list I blogged about yesterday, is a book compiled by James Mustich that lends itself to serial reading in bite size chunks. The second of the thousand entries features the book “Flatland”, drawing it’s early alphabetical placement because it is authored by Edwin Abbott. Here is Mustich’s description:
“A novel of mathematical whimsy, Flatland is set in the peculiar world that provides the book’s name and is home to the putative author, A. Square, a two-dimensional being in a world inhabited by lines, triangles, circles, and polygons. Ingeniously composed as a kind of dystopian memoir, Flatland is a stunning piece of social satire, depicting with great acuity the gender and class distinctions of Victorian Britain … Abbott starkly represents the risks of nonconformity through the society’s treatment of irregular shapes: Figures lacking proper angles or embodying disproportions of one kind or another are consigned to a disadvantaged underclass. What happens when a Sphere appears to initiate A. Square into the mysteries of three dimensions? Well, all hell breaks loose for our protagonist, and nothing ever looks the same. Abbott’s notions about the larger conundrums posed by different dimensions and their relationships to one another were ahead of their time, mathematically speaking, but the enduring fascination of his fable is its depiction of the perils of making the world simpler than it is, no matter how elegantly provable that simplicity may seem.”
The post-script after Abbot’s entry indicates two media adaptations of the book, both released in 2007. Flatland: The Movie
… and Flatland: The Film.
Both of these films are of considerable length, so to give you a more manageable adaptation of Abbot’s Flatland, I found this TED-Ed clip:
Point being, the pastiche that is Mustich’s List will take you to dimensions and heights that you never imagined. In that sense, Abbot’s Flatland is only a teaser. The deeper you read into the book, the more impressive it becomes.