Flatland: A Introduction

By Xah Lee. Date: .

Flatland is a fiction written by Edwin A Abbott (1838 to 1926), in 1884. (34 thousand words).


In the first part of the fiction, you'll read a mock-history of humanity. Its class struggle, intrigues, dark politics, and massacres. In the second part, the author leads you sublimely into the mathematical wonders of dimensionality, in ways you cannot refuse to understand.

The quote used in the frontispiece “Fie, fie, how franticly I square my talk” is from Shakespeare's The Tragedy Of Titus Andronicus (1594), Act 3, Scene 2, where the protagonist is becoming mad and talking to himself. Titus is one of the most bloody literature in history.

The quote “O brave new worlds, That have such people in them!”, is a pun from Shakespeare's play The Tempest, which is famously punned in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932).

Annotated Versions, Sequeals, Film Adoptions

There are several film adaptions. Two of them are released in 2007. See the Wikipedia article Flatland for detail.

There are also several sequels written by different people over the years.

A Chinese version translated in 1988 by 陈忱 can be seen here: http://www.matrix67.com/data/flatland.html .

Thanks to people on alt.usage.english who had given answers to my questions regarding some passages for my annotation. In particular, John Dean, Alan Hope.