a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
In this novel "there's "mathematicians'
graffiti" and a lot of musing on the Poisson-curve. See, for ex. page 140 in
the Pengiun 20th century classics edition.
(Okay, I'll admit it. I have not read this famous American novel myself and so I have nothing to add! If you can, please write a more detailed description to put here and send it to me.)
(See the review by mathematician Nik Weaver at his "Math in Fiction" website.)
I was impressed with Pynchon's reference to mathematics (particularly statistics, in the beginning, w/ Ned Pointsman and Roger Mexico and calculus when talking about the guidance systems, brennschluss, and the rocket's path being calculable as an integration over time), which were not overbearing or forced, but rather enlightening, almost poetic. It's rare to find a major author of fiction who can write in a modality where mathematics is really a tool for understanding cause and effect. Without being elitist, I think that Pynchon's fluent use of math is one reason that many students of literature find this book is hard to approach; if the classic Victorian novel frames the world as a matrix of social interactions reduceable to sometimes hidden motivations, Gravity's Rainbow at times frames the world as a set of physical interactions reduceable to mathematical relationships. Math in this book is pervasive, and a reader of the work who is familiar with integral calculus will be able to pick up on analogies that I can easily see being lost on the uninitiate.
May I just add, the integral of one over cabin(d)cabin = log(cabin)+c = houseboat, a marvelous pun that illustrates perfectly Pynchon's use of mathematics in his fiction, not centrally but as another way of getting toward a greater idea or theme.
|Buy this work of mathematical fiction and read reviews at amazon.com. |
|(Note: This is just one work of
mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more
works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)|
Your Help Needed: Some site visitors remember reading works of mathematical fiction that neither they nor I can identify. It is time to crowdsource this problem and ask for your help! You would help a neighbor find a missing pet...can't you also help a fellow site visitor find some missing works of mathematical fiction? Please take a look and let us know if you have seen these missing stories anywhere!.
(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)