MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Gentzen oder: Betrunken aufräumen [Gentzen or Cleaning Up Drunk] (2021)
Dietmar Dath
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)
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In this work of modern literary fiction, the author appears as a character who is trying to write a novel about the mathematician Gerhard Gentzen. Together with two other colleagues, he tries to get a better understanding of this logician who worked on questions of the foundations of mathematics.

The blurbs for the book bemoan the fact that Gentzen is largely forgotten. He is certainly not completely forgotten. But, even if some people think he deserves more recognition, it is not difficult to find or sympathize with reasons for his relative lack of prominence today. He was an active supporter of the Nazis from 1933 until his death in a Soviet prison camp in Prague in 1945.

Although the choice of Gentzen as a subject for a work of fiction in 2021 is unusual, the fact that the book is rather strange in many ways should not be surprising to anyone who knows about the author. And, Dath does not disappoint in this regard. For example, in this novel which spans decades from Gentzen's lifetime all the way through 2035, one scene has Gentzen explaining his mathematical results to Lady Gaga!

I have not actually read this novel yet, but based on the the blurb from the publisher, I get the feeling that the book suggests that we have Gentzen to thank for the wonders of the internet. In my opinion, that is not an accurate statement. And while exaggerating the modern impact of the research of individual historical mathematicians in works of mathematical fiction is not uncommon, for me this particular instance crosses the line between being merely questionable over to being unacceptable.

I am grateful to Thomas Riepe for bringing this book to my attention.

More information about this work can be found at www.matthes-seitz-berlin.de.
(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 Gentzen oder: Betrunken aufräumen [Gentzen or Cleaning Up Drunk]
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Shakespeare Predicted it All by Dietmar Dath
  2. A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines by Janna Levin
  3. Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman
  4. Dirac by Dietmar Dath
  5. Intoxicating Heights (Höhenrausch. Die Mathematik des XX. Jahrhunderts in zwanzig Gehirnen) by Dietmar Dath
  6. The Difference Engine by William Gibson / Bruce Sterling
  7. Doctor Who: The Turing Test by Paul Leonard
  8. Instantiation by Greg Egan
  9. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
  10. Oracle by Greg Egan
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Categories:
GenreHistorical Fiction, Science Fiction,
MotifReal Mathematicians, War,
TopicComputers/Cryptography, Logic/Set Theory,
MediumNovels,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)