a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Galileo (1938)
Bertolt Brecht

Of course, Brecht's biographical play takes more of a political than a mathematical view of the life of the famous astronomer/mathematician. Note that Joseph Losey, who directed the first American production ot this play in 1947, also made a film version which you can read about here.

Contributed by mary

I read this work in the orginal german and found that math was not the center point of the work, but rather a main theme. Brecht uses the idea of math and science to define his view of humanity. Remember the ending was changed after the use of the atom bomb. The orginal ending was one that displayed Galileo as a hero of sorts. He goes against the Pope, and continues to do his studies. But the ending was changed to show him as a coward, and partially to blame for the fall of humanity. Also keep in mind that Brecht was known to have communist ties. But this work of lit. is a masterpiece, even though it doesn't have math as its central point, but rather as the underlying theme.

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Works Similar to Galileo
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. El matemático del Rey by Juan Carlos Arce
  2. Kepler: A Novel by John Banville
  3. Calculus (Newton's Whores) by Carl Djerassi
  4. Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land by John Crowley
  5. The French Mathematician by Tom Petsinis
  6. A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines by Janna Levin
  7. The Death of Archimedes by Karel Čapek
  8. Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann
  9. In Good King Charles's Golden Days by George Bernard Shaw
  10. Conceiving Ada by Lynn Hershman-Leeson
Ratings for Galileo:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
2.4/5 (5 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.8/5 (5 votes)

GenreHistorical Fiction,
MotifReal Mathematicians,
MediumPlays, Films,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)