MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Geometry in the South Pacific (1927)
Sylvia Warner
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A chapter from Warner's novel Mr. Fortune's Maggot which was published separately in James Newman's World of Mathematics as if it were a short story.

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

This is a story about one Tim Fortune, a former bank clerk who turns to proselytizing as a minister on the island of Fanua. The book has a chapter called “Geometry in the South Pacific” which describes his attempt at showing the beauty of mathematics to a young boy, Lueli. There is a lovely description of the joy he gets thinking about pure mathematics as a distraction from his mundane accounting activity (he terms it “transcendental debauchery”, a delectable pun). The attempt at teaching the elements of Geometry on the beach sand, the frustration of a teacher at the “denseness” of a dull or recalcitrant student, the attempt to use applied math to motvate the said student….they’re all very nicely done. Most of this chapter is also available for online reading in “The World of Mathematics” by Newman.

More information about this work can be found at books.google.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.)

Works Similar to Geometry in the South Pacific
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Young Archimedes by Aldous Huxley
  2. Kavanagh by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  3. Royal Highness (Königliche Hoheit) by Thomas Mann
  4. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  6. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  7. A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin
  8. The Capacity for Infinite Happiness by Alexis von Konigslow
  9. Night and Day by Virginia Woolf
  10. Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Ratings for Geometry in the South Pacific:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)
..
Literary Quality:
5/5 (1 votes)
.

Categories:
Genre
MotifMath Education,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry,
MediumNovels, Short Stories, Available Free Online,

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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)