Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Audio CD(Unabridged)

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Overview

With wry humor and penetrating satire, Flatland takes us on a mind-expanding journey into a different world to give us a new vision of our own. A. Square, the slightly befuddled narrator, is born into a place which is limited to two dimensions—irrevocably flat—and peopled by a hierarchy of geometrical forms. In a Gulliver-like tour of his bizarre homeland, A. Square spins a fascinating tale of domestic drama and political turmoil, from sex among consenting triangles to the intentional subjugation of Flatland's females. He tells of visits to Lineland, the world of one dimension, and Pointland, the world of no dimension. But when A. Square dares to speak openly of a third, even a fourth dimension, his tragic fate climaxes a brilliant parody of Victorian society.

An underground favorite since its publication in England in 1884, Flatland is as prophetic a science-fiction classic as the works of H.G. Wells, introducing aspects of relativity and hyperspace years before Einstein's famous theories, and it does so with a wonderful, enduring enchantment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455134366
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date: 05/01/2012
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 4
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author


Fifty Years in the Flatland
2012 will mark the 50th anniversary in print with Dover of one of the most significant and influential books of the past century and a half. The mathematical, satirical, and religious allegory Flatland by a little-known but immensely prolific Victorian English schoolmaster and theologian Edwin Abbott Abbott, was first published anonymously in England in 1884 — Abbott wrote it under the name "A Square." The unique geometrical romance which is Flatland posited a world and its inhabitants that exist in only two dimensions and forces the reader captivated by the originality of this central idea to think deeply about the meaning of such a world. Generations of readers and students swept into the romance and fascination of geometry and other branches of mathematics and philosophy owe their introduction to this world to Flatland, which continues to entertain and stimulate new readers today, still going strong 126 years after the first edition was launched. Abbott revised the text somewhat for a second edition published just a few months after the first. Dover's 1952 edition was the first American reprinting of the amended second English edition and was published with a new Introduction by physicist Banesh Hoffmann.

From the Book:
"I CALL our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space. Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows — only hard and with luminous edges — and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said 'my universe': but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things."

Read an Excerpt

Part One This World

"Be patient, for the world is broad and wide."

1 Of the Nature of Flatland

I call our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.

Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising, above or sinking below it, very much like shadows-only hard and with luminous edges-and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen. Alas, a few years ago, I should have said "my universe": but now my mind has been opened to higher views of things.

In such a country, you will perceive at once that it is impossible that there should be anything of what you call a " solid" kind; but I dare say you will suppose that you could at least distinguish by sight the Triangles, Squares, and other figures, moving about as I have described them. On the contrary, we could see nothing of the kind, not at least so as to distinguish one figure from another. Nothing was visible, nor could be visible, to us, except Straight Lines; and the necessity of this I will speedily demonstrate.

Place a penny on the middle of one of your tables in Space; and leaning over it, look down upon it. It will appear a circle.

But now, drawing back to the edge of the table, gradually lower your eye (thus bringing yourself more and more into the condition of the inhabitants of Flatland), and you will find the penny becoming more and more oval to your view; and at lastwhen you have placed your eye exactly on the edge of the table (so that you are, as it were, actually a Flatlander) the penny will then have ceased to appear oval at all, and will have become, so far as you can see, a straight line.

The same thing would happen if you were to treat in the same way a Triangle, or Square, or any other figure cut out of pasteboard. As soon as you look at it with your eye on the edge of the table, you will find that it ceases to appear to you a figure, and that it becomes in appearance a straight line. Take for example an equilateral Triangle-who represents with us a Tradesman of the respectable class. Fig. I represents the Tradesman as you would see him while you were bending over him from above; figs. 2 and 3 represent the Tradesman, as you would see him if your eye were close to the level, or all but on the level of the table; and if your eye were quite on the level of the table (and that is how we see him in Flatland) you would see nothing but a straight line.

When I was in Spaceland I heard that your sailors have very similar experiences while they traverse your seas and discern some distant island or coast lying on the horizon. The far-off land may have bays, forelands, angles in and out to any number and extent; yet at a distance you see none of these (unless indeed your sun shines bright upon them revealing the projections and retirements by means of light and shade), nothing but a grey unbroken line upon the water.

Well, that is just what we see when one of our triangular or other acquaintances comes towards us in Flatland. As there is neither sun with us, nor any light of such a kind as to make shadows, we have none of the helps to the sight that you have in Spaceland. If our friend comes closer to us we see his line becomes larger; if he leaves us it becomes smaller: but still he looks like a straight line; be he a Triangle, Square, Pentagon, Hexagon, Circle, what you will -- a straight Line he looks and nothing else.

You may perhaps ask how under these disadvantageous circumstances we are able to distinguish our friends from one another: but the answer to this very natural question will be more fitly and easily given when I come to describe the inhabitants of Flatland. For the present let me defer this subject, and say a word or two about the climate and houses in our country.

2 Of the Climate and Houses in Flatland

As with you, so also with us, there are four points of the compass North, South, East, and West.

There being no sun nor other heavenly bodies, it is impossible for us to determine the North in the usual way; but we have a method of our own. By a Law of Nature with us, there is a constant attraction to the South; and, although in temperate climates this is very slight-so that even a Woman in reasonable health can journey several furlongs northward without much difficulty-yet the hampering effect of the southward attraction is quite sufficient to serve as a compass in most parts of our earth. Moreover, the rain (which falls at stated intervals) coming always from the North, is an additional assistance; and in the towns we have the guidance of the houses, which of course have their side-walls running for the most part North and South, so that the roofs may keep off the rain from the North. In the country, where there are no houses, the trunks of the trees serve as some sort of guide. Altogether, we have not so much difficulty as might be expected in determining our bearings.

Yet in our more temperate regions, in which the southward, attraction is hardly felt, walking sometimes in a perfectly desolate plain where there have been no houses nor trees to guide me, I have been occasionally compelled to remain stationary for hours together, waiting till the rain came before continuing my journey.

Flatland. Copyright © by Edwin Abbott. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

What People are Saying About This

Isaac Asimov

The best introduction one can find into the manner of perceiving dimensions. (From the Forward)

Customer Reviews

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Flatland 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 153 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read, don't buy it though. You can get it for free in public domain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is going to be really corny, but it's true. This book influenced my decision to pursue mathematics and science as a career. Parts of it are a little dry, but these are the social commentary sections. I credit the rest of this book with equipping me to visualize higher dimensions. Definitely worth a read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recommend this as required reading for any geometry student and/or anyone who has ever given the slightest thought to dimensions other than our lovely 3rd dimension.
Kim_Duppy More than 1 year ago
My friends in the literature department will tell you that this is a clever novel about Victorian England. If that's all it were, I couldn't recommend it to anyone. In point of fact, this book is a kind of bare bones look at culture itself (not merely Victorian Culture). By reducing everything to shapes, the author manages to show how cultures evolve—or perhaps better put: how nature influences the development of culture. Plus, if you don't know much about geometry (I don't), you may learn a little about that as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This must be the best book I have read in years! It helped me understand mathematically and logically understand other dimensions as well as our own. This book will give you a glimpse of what living in a two dimensional world might look like, and also an Idea of what the fourth dimension might have in store in a logical manner. It also has a fantastic story and description of a two-dimensional culture, government and relationships. I strongly recommend it for geometry or advanced algebra students or anybody who wants a better understanding of multiple dimensions!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an excellent choice for future math teachers. I am a junior in college getting my BA in Middle Level Math Education. This is an excellent book that will help understand demensions beyond our own.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've recommended this book to my students of Geometry, especially those who will be teachers. This is a delightful guide to the understanding dimensions beyond our own. Must be cautioned that it does seem sexist - maybe a reflection of the time it was written.
Anonymous 9 months ago
An absolute pleasure to experience and shocking to discover its origin of 1884 whence I, a humble resident of Spaceland, encounter it now for the first time in this year 2019, some 135 years later. Yet it’s truths still inspire and enlighten one to contemplate those further dimensions that we cannot name in direction but can conceptualize with the imagination.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great way to conceptualize dimension increments. Iconic, classic work. As a story ... meh. This is a case where I recommend watching the video (faster) vs. reading the book.
dandelionroots on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read the annotated version, which I think was a poor decision. Many of Stewart's side notes weren't terribly interesting or illuminating, and much of the explanation was unnecessary (although parts of it I did appreciate). Abbott's work however is brilliant. I love the satire. The journey through Pointland, Lineland, Flatland, Spaceland and beyond (nonsense!) is epic-ly amazing.
ieJasonW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Many people, when discussing complicated issues like religion or god, do not understand what it means to observe an entity that exists in a space that has one dimension more than themselves. Conversely, they often do not consider what it means to understand how they might be seen by an entity that exists in a space with one dimension less than their own. While these points are not surprising on their own -- beings in other dimensions are not obvious things! -- what is surprising is the lack of use of this information by those who advocate the existence of such beings (ie. God). I think Flatland provides fodder for many deists but is, unfortunately, neglected by the same.
rretzler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I find it very interesting that this book was written 130 years ago and has survived so long, but not many have heard of it. I found it an intriguing book - a reflection of society at the time, which in some ways still holds true today. It has a definite religious theme, as well as a philosophical one. While I cannot say that I liked it, I'm glad that I read it, because it was indeed thought-provoking, which I'm guessing was what the author intended. I would say that it is a must read - and should definitely be on that list of classics which everyone should read. It was an easy read as well, however, I believe it may help if you have a basic understanding of geometry.
BrynDahlquis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A short, surreal trip that makes me very curious and almost suspicious about life. Never before have I enjoyed geometry so much, and I'll probably never look at it the same way again.
Liberuno on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book thinking that I was just going to get a quick humorous read on geometry. I didn't expect a short story told from the point of view of a square in a plane to hold so many interesting questions ranging in subject: from metaphysics and religion to discrimination.This short book is definitely worth reading.
jorgecardoso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is a great little book by Edwin Abbott. Flatland is a mathematical adventure on geometry. It takes place on a two-dimensional world with a strict hierarchical society based on the shape of its individuals and it describes the consequences of the adventure of one of those individuals (a square) through the realms of three-dimensions. It's a great book that makes us think about more-than-three-dimensional spaces and objects through analogy with two- and one- and even zero-dimensional worlds. As I read this, I thought it would be interesting to see an animation version of this book, but it turns out there are already some movies on Flatland. There is even a recent one with Martin Sheen (voice).
LaurenGommert on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this book...even though most of it's way over my head! Still, an awesome book written with a concept that no one has come close to copying since its release. When the book was written readers weren't sure how to classify it, so it got lumped in with sci-fi...which it isn't really. It has more to do with geometrics and philosophy. I bet that's a pair you never thought you'd see together!
fieldri1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Imagine a world where things exist on a plane of two dimensions. There is no up and down at all. People this world with polygons whose social position is ruled by the number of sides they have (triangles are the plebs, circles are the priests) and the class structure is rigidly adhered to.Then imagine of young person in this world who is contacted by a three dimensional sphere and who offers to take her out of her plane world and show her how the universe really is! This is the concept behind Flatland.Part satire on the class structure of Victorian Britain, part teaching aid for teaching euclidian space, this is a classic book, aimed at children, but powerful and thought provoking enough for adults.Its a very slim volume, but the content and its ideas will sit with you for a very long time.
pratchettfan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fascinating allegory on Victorian society told with two and three dimensional geographical figures. Even though written in the late 19th century, aspects of the story about people's sometimes limited world views are still relevant today and the moralities of the book shouldn't be lightly dismissed. At only 80 pages it is a quick read which you shouldn't miss.
TheBooknerd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A classic--all fans of science fiction should read this book.
csixty4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had such high hopes for this book. I figured any speculative fiction that stood the test of time so well must be something really special. Instead, I got porn for math geeks. The whole first half of the book, a description of the inhabitants of Flatland, might have been more interesting if the details were revealed through narrative, but the explanations and diagrams would make a good cure for insomnia. The second half was more interesting, and indeed the last bits were exciting. But the cost to get there was too much.
m_dow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Meh. Not great, but it's a really short read and somewhat entertaining. The "flatland" society is actually rather horrific, full of eugenics and chauvinism, but the story is kind of fun. I wouldn't discourage you from reading it, but I'm not going to run around shouting that this is the best book ever.
TheoClarke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A two-dimensional being discovers the third dimension.
aethercowboy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in a two-dimensional world that could be represented on a large sheet of paper, we meet A. Square, a free thinker in a land ruled by oppressive religious zealots who will hear nothing other than "the world is flat."One day, however, Square meets Sphere, and is bumped out of Flatland and sent on a multidimensional journey.If you've ever been interested in the mathematical concept of dimensions, and want any reason to believe that the fourth dimension is not time, per se, I suggest you read this book, as it will open your eyes to a whole new perspective by likening yourself to Square.
isabelx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Written in the late 19th century, this book is both a mathematical fantasy set in a two-dimensional world and a satire on Victorian society. Sphere from Spaceland tries to explain the 3rd dimension to Square, a resident of Flatland, but refuses to countenance the possibility of a 4th dimension when Square extrapolates further. Very interesting.