1995 Easton Press Edition Introduction

Author: Gregory Benford

Abstract of Introduction: After first depicting Abbott as a "prim reverend" who broke out of his cover in writing Flatland, Benford discusses four main topics: (1) the fourth-dimension as it relates to both analytic geometry and mystics' explanations of ghosts and God, (2) Flatland as a social satire, (3) the deeper "scientific issues" related to Flatland, such as relativity, and (4) "intense spiritual experience" as portrayed in Flatland. Benford seems to focus on the third topic, discussing relativity and how this relates to a 4D world as well as its theological consequences.

Excerpt: The Reverend Edwin Abbott Abbott, M.A., D.D., headmaster of the City of London School, was a bit odd.

Respected, well liked, he led a strictly regular life, as proper as a parallelogram. He had published quite a few conventional books with titles like Through Nature to Christ, Parables for Children, and How to Tell the Parts of Speech. These did not prepare the world for his sudden excursion into the fantastic, in 1884. Flatland has proved his only hedge against oblivion, an astonishingly prescient fantasy of mathematics.

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