Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions - Edwin A. Abbott, A.K. Dewdney

'Flatland' is a Victorian novel about social class and mathematics. A. Square, our narrator, is a scholar and introduces the reader to the civilization of Flatland, its people and character. He had led a normal life up until he was visited by Sphere and taken on a tour of several dimensions. After his journey life becomes complicated.

Notably, Flatland exists in the 2nd dimension and is governed by a ruling class of polyhedrals who keep a tight grip on the teeming lower classes. Status is determined by what figure you are and male children have one more side then their fathers. Triangles are the most common and their fate is determined by the acuteness of their angles which is an indicator of intelligence. Women are exclusively straight lines and therefore silly and unpredictably volatile.

The novel moves quickly, covering the mechanics of movement, episodes in Flatland's history, and its government. The story works as an introduction to mathematical thought and as a social satire. Square cannot comprehend Sphere until he is forcibly removed from his world and on returning is left without the tools to educate those around him about what he saw. He is punished accordingly.