|This is the classic example of mathematical fiction in which
the author helps us to think about the meaning of "dimension" through
fictional example: a visit to a world with only two spatial
dimensions. Apparently, though he clearly had an interest in
geometry, the goal of the book is to discuss human culture
(specifically, the Victorian culture in which he was living) as much
as to discuss math.
Note: The entire text of this book is currently available for free
in an electronic (ASCII) format from the Gutenberg Project at ibiblio.org.
Note for 2002: The book has been rereleased with annotations by Ian
Stewart. The new version is reviewed in the
AMS Notices by AK Dewdney.
Note that this book has inspired many direct sequels. See Flatterland, An Episode of
Flatland, A Message Found in a Copy of
Flatland, Sphereland and Spaceland.
Brilliant book but some details are lacking within Flatland's societal infrastructure. Abbott, for example, describes the greeting process of flatlanders as "feeling" but his depictions of Flatland inhabitants are merely geometrical shapes with no appendages (arms, legs) with which to feel. Left out details such as this are distracting to the reader. Had Abbott addressed these issues, the book would have been more convincing and intriguing.
My girlfreind is a geometry teacher in Jersey. We went to high school together and we both remember seeing the movie called "Flatland" and it was based on the book. The problem is, she hasn't been able to find a copy of it anywhere. Her birthday is coming up, and I'd really like to find it. Any suggestions on where to look?
Perhaps you're thinking of the 1965 animated version made at Harvard University, featuring the voice of Dudley Moore and directed by Eric Martin?!? At least, that's the only candidate I can think of. Believe it or not, that version is still for sale from the DER. (Unfortunately, it's not cheap. But nobody ever said that romance would be, eh?)
(April 2005) I was first introduced to Flatland by E. A. Abbott in a college philosophy class, in 1977. I fell in love with it. (I am also a mathemetician.) It inspired what has become to me a delightful investigation of higher dimensions.
Flatland is not comparable to anything else. It is unique! I think that every mathematician should read it. What bothered me was the position that women have in this story. They are presented as stupid, unable to learn and think, or make choices of their own. After reading the story I found out more about the role of women in the time that Flatland was written. It makes sense now. It is worth reading it because of two things (not only one): The mathematics that is used and the way women are presented.
An intriguing and provocative work which I will use in a math text cluster in my 11th Grade International Baccalaurate Math SL classroom. It is a great bridge between previous classes and new concepts/thinking at the start of Junior Year, particularly as a spur to discussing social issues using this geometric vehicle. Note: It's also available for free at http://downlode.org/etext/index.html
[Added October 2006] It appears that "Flatland the Movie" (starring Martin Sheen) is in the works.
Some have suggested that it is just a joke (oh, come on...it's not THAT bad), but the trailer available at flatlandthemovie.com is rather entertaining.
This is the best description of dimensions I've ever seen.
While promoting a film I'm involved in, I ran across your webpage where you keep a list of mathematical fiction, and thought you might like to know about this current film adaptation of Edwin Abbott's Flatland.
Flatland: The Film, directed by Ladd P. Ehlinger Jr.
It's currently in prerelease and has so far received good reviews at places like Scifi.com and Filmthreat.com
You can find trailers and clips at the film's webpage: http://www.flatlandthefilm.com/
We'd be honored if you would include us on your Flatland page!
R. Perrin Ehlinger (aka B-Square)
Yes, it's true. You can read about two different projects at FlatlandTheFilm.com and FlatlandTheMovie.com. I'm sure someone will get a wonderful term paper out of comparing and contrasting the two movies.
"William E. Emba"|
By the way, you may want to mention that FLATLAND was
originally published under the pseudonym "A. Square".
As Stewart points out, this was presumably an inside
joke on Abbott's part, what with his middle name being
the same as his last name.
I think that all people, not just mathematicians, should read this book. It is really tremendous, offering a good story, and pretty self-contained world, and lots of help understanding projections, etc., without ever appearing to be a math textbook. I wrote about it and Flatterland on my own fiction site (I found Flatterland a bit difficult after a while, and haven't finished it yet, but enjoyed the beginning). I bought the DVD (Flatland-the movie I think it is called) but haven't watched it yet.
Robert W. Franson|
A very clever novel, and I still find it thought-provoking.
Mark R. Leeper|
There are four film versions of FLATLAND listed in the IMDB. Two came out in 2007 and I reviewed them both:
one and two.
Thanks, Mark! (NB When visiting the IMDB link above, take note that there is also an unrelated TV series with the same title.)
Vijay and I agreed that "Geometric Regional Novel" by Gert Jonke is not sufficiently mathematical to justify having its own entry in this database. However, since it is similar to Flatland in some ways, I will post Vijay's summary of that book here for those who might be interested in it:
Geometric Regional Novel by Gert Jonke is another book that is similar to Flatland in some ways.
An odd but charming book which desrcibes a strange, very static, grey world nestled in some corner of thought. In measured, clipped tones, the narrator describes the contours of the geometric village, with its Village Square, its bylanes, its bridge, the bridge keeper, the artist and his pyramidal tent, the blacksmith and his house, the regimented routines of the village officials, the sleeping positions of people, the door frames and door styles, the trees, the irrigation system, dairy farming, folk songs, etc etc. Geometric drawings supplement the descriptions in various places.
However, unlike “Flatland”, this is really not a mathematical novel, as such, beyond the geometric mood it sets. It is intended as a very subtle satire. As the back cover of the book describes it:
“[The book is] An innovative satire on the process by which bureacracy and official regimentation insidiously pervade society. In a dead-pan, pseudo-scientific tone, the nameless narrator takes us on a tour of a bizarre village whose inhabitants lead such habitual, regulated lives that they resemble elements in a mathematical equation."