a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|This brilliant, weird play, retelling the story of Shakespeare's Hamlet
from the point of view of two "throw away" characters, unfortunately has
very little mathematics in it. However, every few days I get an e-mail
message from someone suggesting that I add it to the list, so I will. The
mathematical content of the play is all contained in the discussion of
probability surrounding the tossing of a coin. You see, at first it seems
that the coin always comes up heads.. I always perceived this as a clue
that they were not in "the real world" rather than any sort of statement of
mathematics, but I could be wrong! Later, when the coin finally comes up
tails, this seems to portend a change in the action. (If you haven't seen
this show before, and can stand some weirdness, I strongly recommend that
you rent the movie!)
I would disagree that the coin always coming up heads is a sign that the play exists outside the real world. In fact, I think this is precisely the point: In the real world, at every toss, there is just as much chance for heads as tails. While it seems unlikely that the repeated tosses are always heads, it is entirely possible. This is a theme running throughout the story - the real world is stranger than fiction - and the use of mathematics is central to this.
Those interested in this story may also want to look at Hilbert Schenck's The Geometry of Narrative in which he introduces a method for applying four dimensional geometry to literary analysis and applies it (among other works) to "Hamlet" and "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead", which he claims are "rotated" with respect to each other.
|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.)|
Exciting News: The total number of works of mathematical fiction listed in this database recently reached a milestone. The 1,500th entry is The Man of Forty Crowns by Voltaire. Thanks to Vijay Fafat for writing the summary of that work (and so many others). I am also grateful to everyone who has contributed to this website. Heck, I'm grateful to everyone who visited the site. Thank you!
(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)