a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Raven and the Writing Desk (2019)
Ian T. Durham

In this work -- which is more of a Socratic dialogue utilizing characters from Lewis Carroll's fiction than it is a work of fiction itself -- the author explores philosophical questions regarding the existence of mathematical objects. His main point is to distinguish between two realities: representational and tangible.

(Warning: Contrary to what this work suggests, considering the integers and the rational numbers does not force one to accept that there are different "sizes" of infinity. The author was presumably thinking of the integers and the real numbers, which indeed are infinite sets with different cardinalities according to the definitions introduced by Georg Cantor. The integers and the rational numbers, in contrast, can be put into one-to-one correspondence.)

Thanks to Allan Goldberg for suggesting that this work be added to my database. It was published in Trick or Truth?: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics and is available for free from

Contributed by Ian Durham

I was delighted to (purely by accident) find that something I wrote ended up on your site. In fact I had no idea your site even existed. At any rate, the warning you posted about the mistake is, of course, correct. I just wanted to make sure I pointed out that it was a typo. It actually was supposed to say “reals” and not “rationals”. Thanks for the inclusion and love the site!

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 The Raven and the Writing Desk
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Let's Consider Two Spherical Chickens by Tommaso Bolognesi
  2. Gauß, Eisenstein, and the ``third'' proof of the Quadratic Reciprocity Theorem: Ein kleines Schauspiel by Reinhard C. Laubenbacher / David J. Pengelley
  3. Dialógusok a matematikáról [Dialogues on Mathematics] by Alfréd Rényi
  4. Shakespeare Predicted it All by Dietmar Dath
  5. Euclid and His Modern Rivals by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll)
  6. Conversations on Mathematics with a Visitor from Outer Space by David Ruelle
  7. Surreal Numbers: How Two Ex-Students Turned on to Pure Mathematics and Found Total Happiness by Don Knuth
  8. Gödel, Escher Bach: an eternal golden braid by Douglas Hofstadter
  9. Sylvie and Bruno Concluded by Lewis Carroll
  10. A Tangled Tale by Lewis Carroll
Ratings for The Raven and the Writing Desk:
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:
1/5 (1 votes)

GenreFantasy, Didactic,
TopicInfinity, Real Mathematics,

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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)