MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

...
Hard Times (1853)
Charles Dickens
...

Contributed by Syd Amit

A suggestion for a novel to be added to your website Mathematical Fiction: In Charles Dickens's "Hard Times", poor schoolgirl Sissy Jupe is struggling in an educational system that is obsessed with numbers and facts, with no room for "fancy". In Chapter IX ("Sissy's Progress"), Sissy tells her friend Louisa Gradgrind of her experiences at school:

(quoted from Hard Times)

'Yes, Miss Louisa, I know it was, now. Then Mr. M'Choakumchild said he would try me again. And he said, This schoolroom is an immense town, and in it there are a million of inhabitants, and only five-and-twenty are starved to death in the streets, in the course of a year. What is your remark on that proportion? And my remark was - for I couldn't think of a better one - that I thought it must be just as hard upon those who were starved, whether the others were a million, or a million million. And that was wrong, too.'

'Of course it was.'

'Then Mr. M'Choakumchild said he would try me once more. And he said, Here are the stutterings - '

'Statistics,' said Louisa.

'Yes, Miss Louisa - they always remind me of stutterings, and that's another of my mistakes - of accidents upon the sea. And I find (Mr. M'Choakumchild said) that in a given time a hundred thousand persons went to sea on long voyages, and only five hundred of them were drowned or burnt to death. What is the percentage? And I said, Miss;' here Sissy fairly sobbed as confessing with extreme contrition to her greatest error; 'I said it was nothing.'

'Nothing, Sissy?'

'Nothing, Miss - to the relations and friends of the people who were killed. I shall never learn,' said Sissy. 'And the worst of all is, that although my poor father wished me so much to learn, and although I am so anxious to learn, because he wished me to, I am afraid I don't like it.'

In my opinion, this is the most poignant and most brilliant literary criticism of collectivist mindsets that view people as numbers in equations, as cells in an organism, and as bricks in a wall

More information about this work can be found at www.gutenberg.org.
(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 Hard Times
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Long Division by Buzz Mauro
  2. Young Archimedes by Aldous Huxley
  3. Geometry in the South Pacific by Sylvia Warner
  4. The Odd Women by George Gissing
  5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  6. Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  7. Mrs. Warren's Profession by George Bernard Shaw
  8. Round the Moon by Jules Verne
  9. War and Peace by Lev Tolstoy
  10. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Ratings for Hard Times:
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:
1/5 (1 votes)
..
Literary Quality:
5/5 (1 votes)
.

Categories:
Genre
MotifMath as Cold/Dry/Useless, Math Education,
TopicProbability/Statistics,
MediumNovels, Available Free Online,

Home All New Browse Search About

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)