a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

Tenet (2012)
Lorne Campbell / Sandy Grierson

Évariste Galois is one of two characters in this play, whose full title is apparently "Tenet: A True Story About the Revolutionary Politics of Telling the Truth about Truth as Edited by Someone Who is Not Julian Assange in Any Literal Sense". The other character, of course, is Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Galois is known (in addition to his tragic/romantic life story) for working out a method for determining whether a polynomial equation can be solved by radicals (like the quadratic formula for solving ax2+bx+c=0). This method grew into something much larger, abstract algebra, but at its genesis it was a question of whether something was possible. That we can prove something is ultimately impossible in mathematics makes it quite unusual among human intellectual endeavors, and so one can see that this might make Galois an interesting figure to use in a play that explores the boundaries of "truth". I am less certain, at this point, how Assange would fit into this. In any case, one has to admit that Galois and Assange are an unlikely pair.

I haven't seen the show and so cannot confidently say whether this it works on any level, but according to Tony's Maths Blog "There is a lot of mathematics in the play, and it is presented intelligently and accurately: the story of modern algebra is communicated remarkably well" and that it is "a truly remarkable theatrical experience, with outstanding performances in a quite exceptional play, leaving the audience with much to think about in relation to politics, mathematics and truth (exactly as promised by the subtitle)".

The play was performed at London's Gate Theatre in May 2012. Thanks to Vijay Fafat for bringing this play to my attention and "Tony" for his blog which I have quoted (at this point) without permission.

More information about this work can be found at
(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 Tenet
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight by Lauren Gunderson
  2. Fermat's Last Tango by Joanne Sydney Lessner / Joshua Rosenblum
  3. Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
  4. Uniform Convergence: A One-Woman Play by Corrine Yap
  5. Completeness by Itamar Moses
  6. A Disappearing Number by Simon McBurney
  7. The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung
  8. Elegantly, In the Least Number of Steps by Monica McFawn
  9. Book of Knut: a novel by Knut Knudson by Halvor Aakhus
  10. Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby
Ratings for Tenet:
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:
5/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
5/5 (1 votes)

MotifReal Mathematicians,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory,

Home All New Browse Search About

Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)