a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
John L. Bell, University of Western Ontario|
A semi-autobiographical novel set in a military
academy in a desolate corner of the Austro-Hungarian empire, is the
story of the intellectual awakening of an intelligent adolescent, and
contains several passages on mathematics (and philosophy), notably a
remarkably penetrating discussion of the meaning of imaginary numbers.
Young Törless was adapted into a movie, directed by Volker Schlöndorff (who also adapted The Tin Drum).
Confusions of Young Torless is not only about irrational numbers but also about parallels. In the beginning Musil describes the tracks of the railroad line not as one may expect (and as it for instance Gerhart Hauptmann does it in "Bahnwärter Thile") as converging at the horizon. Musil tells the reader the tracks will never meet. Which of course is true but you never see it like that.
The thoughts about irrational numbers raises the philosophical question if numbers alltogether are inventions of man kind or if we find them (as we found for instance Australia or the Congo).
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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)