#CBR7 Review #217: Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott

In my quest to continue the Book Club Streak, I decided to read January’s book early. I have so many other books to read, and I hate being last-minute about selections. Plus, I was also rather nervous about this book. C, our organizer, had decided on a book that she wanted us all to read, and then she wants to connect it to a Rob Bell sermon/talk on the universe. I’m not sure how much I have to contribute to the discussion, as far as math is concerned. But I’m rather intrigued by its depiction of society.

Flatland is an allegory/satire/parable about math and society. I think. It chronicles the life and society of A. Square, who resides in the two-dimensional flatland. He documents the life of being two-dimensional, except for the women—who are merely lines and have to shout out their appearance, because their needle-like bodies have pierced men before (I’m not even making this stuff up). Then, one day, a sphere interrupts the seemingly peaceful, if boring and limited existence. Once Square leaves Flatland, he can’t really go back. But how to make others believe in a three-dimensional existence?

The math parts of this book glazed me over quite a bit. I’m not sure how the universe/science parts of our book club discussion will go. But, when reading the introduction, I understood that there was a commentary on society that we are supposed to glean from it. And if you have read Gulliver’s Travels or The Blazing World of Margaret Cavendish, it makes sense. While this was not an enjoyable or pleasurable read, the bizarre gender/marriage dynamic kept me engaged—I really do hope this is satire, because if not, YIKES.

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