Cover of: Flatland | Edwin Abbott Abbott


  • Editor
    Rosemary Jann
  • Introduction
    Rosemary Jann
  • Notes by
    Rosemary Jann

About the Book

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, though written in 1884, is still considered useful in thinking about multiple dimensions. It is also seen as a satirical depiction of Victorian society and its hierarchies. A square, who is a resident of the two-dimensional Flatland, dreams of the one-dimensional Lineland. He attempts to convince the monarch of Lineland of the possibility of another dimension, but the monarch cannot see outside the line. The square is then visited himself by a Sphere from three-dimensional Spaceland, who must show the square Spaceland before he can conceive it. As more dimensions enter the scene, the story's discussion of fixed thought and the kind of inhuman action which accompanies it intensifies.

About the Edition

‘Upward, and yet not Northward.’

How would a creature limited to two dimensions be able to grasp the possibility of a third? Edwin A. Abbott’s droll and delightful ‘romance of many dimensions’ explores this conundrum in the experiences of his protagonist, A Square, whose linear world is invaded by an emissary Sphere bringing the gospel of the third dimension on the eve of the new millennium. Part geometry lesson, part social satire, this classic work of science fiction brilliantly succeeds in enlarging all readers’ imaginations beyond the limits of our ‘respective dimensional prejudices’. In a world where class is determined by how many sides you possess, and women are straight lines, the prospects for enlightenment are boundless, and Abbott’s hypotheses about a fourth and higher dimensions seem startlingly relevant today.

This new edition of Flatland illuminates the social and intellectual context that produced the work as well as the timeless questions that it raises about the limits of our perception and knowledge.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vi
Introduction vii
Note on the Text xxxiv
Select Bibliography xxxvi
A Chronology of Edwin A. Abbott xxxix
1 Of the Nature of Flatland 15
2 Of the Climate and Houses in Flatland 18
3 Concerning the Inhabitants of Flatland 21
4 Concerning the Women 25
5 Of our Methods of Recognizing one another 31
6 Of Recognition by Sight 36
7 Concerning Irregular Figures 42
8 Of the Ancient Practice of Painting 46
9 Of the Universal Colour Bill 49
10 Of the Suppression of the Chromatic Sedition 53
11 Concerning our Priests 58
12 Of the Doctrine of our Priests 61
13 How I had a Vision of Lineland 69
14 How in my Vision I endeavoured to explain the nature of Flatland, but could not 74
15 Concerning a Stranger from Spaceland 80
16 How the Stranger vainly endeavoured to reveal to me in words the mysteries of Spaceland 84
17 How the Sphere, having in vain tried words, resorted to deeds 92
18 How I came to Spaceland and what I saw there 95
19 How, though the Sphere showed me other mysteries of Spaceland, I still desired more; and what came of it 100
20 How the Sphere encouraged me in a Vision 108
21 How I tried to teach the Theory of Three Dimensions to my Grandson, and with what success 111
22 How I then tried to diffuse the Theory of Three Dimensions by other means, and of the result 114
Explanatory Notes 119

Edition Notes

Oxford World's Classics
Copyright Date
2006, Editorial material, Rosemary Jann

The Physical Object

xlii, 134
Number of pages

ID Numbers

Open Library
Internet Archive
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