MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Girl Who Loved Mathematics (1988)
Elizabeth Smithers
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Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A sad tale of a college girl, Gilberte (not her true name), who has a penchant for mathematics, having inherited from her father “who was was some high official who presumably dealt with estimates and figures”. In appearance, Gilberte “was tall and thin, like the irreducible first digit, unless you reduced it to fractions, those fey incomprehensible hieroglyphics that reminded me of freckles”. and then, “It wasn't long before she outstripped her teachers in science and maths, and there was talk of allowing her to cycle to the Boys’ High School for the competition.”

It becomes clear that Gilberte’s talents need to be honed in a university but “the attitude of Gilberte’s seemed to be that boys went to university if they were so inclined and girls were homemakers and married.” The school headmistress tries to reason with the father, to no avail, and in a comical turn, ends up slapping the father for his intransigence...

Gilberte has thoughts of being with “someone quiet and dreamy, who will smile when you mention the pleasure of numbers. Someone in the same field to talk projective geometry with in the evenings.” Unfortunately, that was not to be. “She married the first man she met at a dance, had five children, and ran a fish and chip shop. At least she could add the numbers in her head.”...

Published in the anthology in “New Women's Fiction” (1988, Aorewa Mcleod, ed.)

(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 Girl Who Loved Mathematics
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
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  2. Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins
  3. 4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie
  4. The Nesting Dolls by Alina Adams
  5. Miss Havilland by Gay Daly
  6. Strange Attractors by Rebecca Goldstein
  7. Fermat's Best Theorem by Janet Kagan
  8. The Wizard by C.S. Godshalk
  9. Division by Zero by Ted Chiang
  10. Mathemagics by Patricia Duffy Novak
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Categories:
Genre
MotifFemale Mathematicians,
Topic
MediumShort Stories,

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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)