a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Use of Geometry in the Modern Novel (1956)
Norman Clarke

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A slightly humorous short story written as a “how to?” piece. The author asks if a story can be written to reflect a geometrical theorem,

(quoted from The Use of Geometry in the Modern Novel)

“translating this meager framework into a well piece of Literature, replete with those fine old cliches [and glowing prose] which we all know and love, and without which a book would be an empty thing.”

in a manner where

(quoted from The Use of Geometry in the Modern Novel)

“the fanatic reader can sink his dentures or the sharp fangs of his mind.”

The author chooses the following theorem as a challenge.

(quoted from The Use of Geometry in the Modern Novel)

“If one side of a triangle is divided externally into segments which are proportional to the other two sides, the straight line which joins the point of the section to the opposite vertex bisects the angle at the vertex.”

He then proceeds to outline a purposely-nonsensical story, “'THE TRAGEDY OF X, Y AND Z’ by Corollary Queen”. The entire story reminded me of the mathematician, David Hilbert’s famous quote: "One must be able to say at all times--instead of points, straight lines, and planes--tables, chairs, and beer mugs".

Originally published in a Canadian fanzine, “Wendigo”, and then reprinted in Infinity Science Fiction, June 1956.

(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 Use of Geometry in the Modern Novel
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Who Killed the Duke of Densmore? by Claude Berge
  2. The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster
  3. The Geometry of Narrative by Hilbert Schenck
  4. The Mathematicians of Grizzly Drive by Josef Skvorecky
  5. Dalrymple’s Equation by Paul Fairman
  6. A Frayed Knot by Felix Culp
  7. 1 to 999 by Isaac Asimov
  8. Cardano and the Case of the Cubic by Jeff Adams
  9. Mangum, P.I. by Colin Adams
  10. A Killer Theorem by Colin Adams
Ratings for The Use of Geometry in the Modern Novel:
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)

GenreMystery, Humorous, Romance,
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)