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FLATLAND...The Classic (Free On-Line Copies)

Every mathematics teacher and many students should read the old favorite FLATLAND: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884) by Edwin Abbott. My old Dover reprint was purchased in the 1960s and is both dog-eared and well-read. If you have not read it, then now is the time!

Basically, the book FLATLAND uses a story line involving polygonal creatures in a dimension-2 plane to explore the nature of higher dimensions such as 3, 4, etc. Some parts of the book (e.g. portrayal of women and soldiers) can be disturbing until you realize that the book was written as a satire on problems/attitudes in Victorian England.

Though you can purchase inexpensive copies ($1.50) of the text from Dover or Amazon, it is available free on-line in several venues:

Now, this on-line copy is okay but is filled with hypertext links to word meanings that can become bothersome: And, this one is a "free" download of the entire book: Other options are an audio overview: Or two commentaries on the text--especially, its social and mathematical aspects: Plus some help in connecting the mathematics of Flatland to geometry (perspective and projective): My next installment of this "column" will shift to the movie version of Flatland and the many sequels that are available.