a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|Considered by many to be Shaw's worst play, this late example of his
witty writing may be of special interest to visitors to this site. It
takes place at the home of Sir Isaac Newton where he is joined by
historical figures including King Charles II, George Fox -- the founder of
the Quakers -- and the artist Godfrey Kneller. As Shaw explains in the
preface, he considers Kneller to be a stand-in for William Hogarth, another
artist who was not born until 1697. His point is to contrast Newton's
"rectilinear" view of the universe with Hogarth's interest in curves and
Einstein's General Relativity!
Do not read this play looking for historical accuracy. (It is subtitled "A
True History that Never Happened".) Little jokes
like Newton's attempt to compute the product of 3 and 7 using logarithms, are nothing compared to the
intentional anachronism of allowing Newton to discover the eccentricity in
the perihelion of Mercury.
Of course, there is more going on here than just mathematics. You might
read this also for Shaw's take on religion and alchemy and on the future of women in
politics, but such topics take us away from the focus of this Website and
so I will leave them for someone else to discuss.
I'm happy to say that this play is available online for free from Project
Guttenberg by following this link. Much thanks to George Woodworth of the
University of Iowa for pointing it out to me.
|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.)|
(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)