MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Freud's Megalomania: A Novel (2001)
Israel Rosenfield
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Contributed by Michele Benzi

This is an intriguing piece of work, mixing fact with fiction and different styles (from the scientific essay to the diary), probably best understood as an ironic look upon the "Freud wars". Mathematics enters primarily through an imagined encounter between Anna Freud and John von Neumann, in which the latter draws analogies between his Game Theory and some of Freud's psychoanalytic theories. There are also mentions of Borel and Wiener (consistently misspelled as "Weiner", unfortunately). A footnote even discusses the controversy between von Neumann and Borel over the priority in the development of a mathematical theory of games, which appears to be historical, not fictional.

In a letter to the New York Review of Books, the author claims that the book is actually a defense of psychoanalysis, whose role in psychology he sees have having been usurped by game theory.

I have not actually read the novel and thank Michele Benzi of Emory University for bringing it to my attention. However, having read (and strongly disagreed with) the letter I do not think I am inclined to read the book soon.

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Works Similar to Freud's Megalomania: A Novel
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar / Akiva Goldsman
  2. 36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Goldstein
  3. Shakespeare Predicted it All by Dietmar Dath
  4. Ultima lezione a Gottinga [Last lecture at Göttingen] by Davide Osenda
  5. A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel by Gaurav Suri / Hartosh Singh Bal
  6. Zéro, ou les Cinq vies d'Aemer by Denis Guedj
  7. Infinities by John Barrow
  8. La formule de Stokes, roman by Michèle Audin
  9. Pythagoras' Revenge: A Mathematical Mystery by Arturo Sangalli
  10. The Shackles of Conviction by James R. Meyer
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Categories:
GenreHistorical Fiction, Humorous, Didactic,
MotifReal Mathematicians,
Topic
MediumNovels,

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May 2016: I am experimenting with a new feature which will print a picture of the cover and a link to the Amazon.com page for a work of mathematical fiction when it is available. I hope you find this useful and convenient. In any case, please write to let me know if it is because I would be happy to either get rid of it or improve it if that would be better for you. Thanks! -Alex

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)