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A Romance of Many Dimensions

With Illustrations
by the Author, A SQUARE

[Edwin Abbott Abbott]


"Fie, fie how franticly I square my talk!"

Second, revised edition, 1884

Table of Contents


The Inhabitants of SPACE IN GENERAL
This Work is Dedicated
By a Humble Native of Flatland
In the Hope that
Even as he was Initiated into the Mysteries
Of THREE Dimensions
Having been previously conversant
So the Citizens of that Celestial Region
May aspire yet higher and higher
To the Secrets of FOUR FIVE OR EVEN SIX Dimensions
Thereby contributing
To the Enlargment of THE IMAGINATION
And the possible Development
Of that most and excellent Gift of MODESTY
Among the Superior Races

A Note on the Text

Copy-text for this HTML edition is the Princeton Science Library edition of Flatland, new material copyright 1991 by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, N.J. 08540, all rights reserved. We do not reproduce any of the copyrighted material here, for example the excellent introduction by Thomas Banchoff. This edition is a reprint of the 6th edition by Dover Publications, 1953, ISBN 0-691-02525-8, QA699.A13, 1991, 530.1'1--dc20, 90-28266. Since some page number references were incorrect, we altered them to Section and paragraph links instead.

This edition is also a corrected edition of the ASCII "Internet Wiretap Electronic Edition of FLATLAND, [Fifth Edition, Revised], A Public Domain Text, Instantiated by in November 1990, The Internet Wiretap, of Cupertino, California," We have restored the illustrations by Abbott and the table of contents, as well as corrected a great many misprints in the Wiretap edition.

We have not attempted to provide notes for this edition. The usual introductions make it clear that Abbott intended a social satire of Victorian England's society, and an expression of his efforts to advance the cause of education for women and classes lower than the English aristocracy. Abbott was a successful theologian, classics scholar, and Shakespeare expert (which explains the Shakespearean references in the frontispiece and several quotations in this book), as well as proficient in mathematics. He was headmaster of the City of London School, a day school from which he had graduated.

Flatland has been discovered with delight by each generation since it was issued, and has remained in print since then. Introductions have pointed out the applicability to modern art, 20th-century physics, computer graphics and modeling, and exploratory data analysis. Readers might also enjoy a sequel, Sphereland, by Dionys Burger, 1965, as well as Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.

A novel that has Fourth Dimension elements can also be found online: The Inheritors, jointly authored by Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Hueffer (Ford) (1901).

Cogitators of the fourth dimension should be aware that Abbott is not talking about TIME. Time is the fourth dimension in a three-dimensional world, the fifth in a four-dimensional world, and so on. The dimensions he refers to are then of "space," or shall we say, "hyperspace."

Abbott portrait

Edwin Abbott Abbott (1838-1926)



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