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Abbott, Edwin A.


Abbott, Edwin A.

(British, 1838–1926)

A leading theologian of the Victorian era and eminent Shakespearian scholar, Abbott published many learned works, yet is best remembered as the author of Flatland (1884), subtitled A Romance of Many Dimensions. This is an amusing and thought-provoking little book, part social satire, part speculation into the rarefied realms of theoretical science. The author—a Square, geometrically speaking—describes the arrival into his two-dimensional world of a being from the third dimension—a Sphere. Unable to perceive a solid body, the Flatlander would see only a circle intersecting his flat plane; extend this analogy to our world of three dimensions, and we become the Flatlanders, unaware of both past and future perpetually existing in fourth-dimensional spacetime. Remarkably, Abbott's artistic visualization came twenty years before Einstein formulated his Theory of Relativity, providing imagery which helps us grasp a mind-boggling concept.

Jules Verne, Jonathan Swift, Olaf Stapledon  TH

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (A-Bo)