1991 Princeton Science Library Introduction

Author: Thomas Banchoff

Abstract of Introduction: Insert.

Excerpt: Flatland first appeared over one hundred years ago and a dozen different editions have been published since then. Why now put out a new edition of this book in the Princeton Science Library? For each generation of readers, Edwin Abbott Abbott's classic story of encounter between beings from different dimensions has had different significance. In 1884, the social satire on the limited perspective of Victorian England was as important as the comments on the use of analogy in treating higher dimensions, and both of these elements were clarified by the introduction to the second edition, purportedly written by an editor but actually written by Abbott himself. When the book was reissued in 1926, the main stimulus for considering higher dimensions was relativity theory, and a new introduction was written by William Garnett, a physicist student of Abbott's. In 1952, when the first modern edition appeared, it was again a physicist, Banesh Hoffmann, who wrote the introduction referring to the connection between the dimensional analogy and the curvature of space. Other recent introductions have come from science-fiction and fantasy writers, a computer scientist, and a social historian.

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