Review of Flatland (1884)

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Edwin Abbott Abbott (writer).

Read in 2021.

On the eve of Y2K, a “human” square goes on the ride of a lifetime.

A lively satire of Victorian class and gender, which is also a funny way to teach some geometry. Most of the satire is ultimately about the assumption of self-importance in a state of ignorance, which echoes throughout the sequence of dimensionalities. It is clearest in the solipsism of the “King” of “Pointland”, which has aged well.

I assume that in real life, Abbott “Abbott” Abbott was skeptical of any association between sex, complexity or regularity and status or intelligence, but his opinions are blurred by an anthropomorphism resembling that of fairytales and “funny animal” stories. It would be unsurprising but ironic if he really did despise women, despite the unspoken parallel between the ability of Flatland women to kill anybody with their butts and the ability of the lower-class isosceles to conquer their unjust masters by force with their sharper angles.

References here: Measurement (2012), Snowpiercer (2013).

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