The Indian Clerk
The title is in reference to S. Ramanujan, the mathematician. It is a name I had heard, but the name and profession were previously the extent of my knowledge. The book begins with the English maths don G.H. Hardy helping bring Ramanujan over to Cambridge from his post as a minor clerk in Madras. From there it proceeds through ...more
I don't understand anything about theoretical mathematics, but I know something about collaboration, and this description of what it is to work with another person on an intractable but fascinating problem is beautifully realized. I found all of the characters compelling, the story, based as it is on historical incidents and people, moving and ultimately heart-breaking. Images in this have stuck with me for weeks now (a British woman feeling out of plac ...more
It is the world of mathematics in the early 20th Century at Trinity College, England. The Indian Clerk of the title is Ramanujan, who is described by G.H. Hardy, then a famous mathematician, as being "the greatest mathematician of the last 100 years, perhaps the last 500 years." There are formulas interspersed ...more
Una historia entretenida, fácil de leer y sin embargo no estoy muy seguro de si se la recomendaría a alguien. Seguramente yo iba buscando una historia en la que Ramanujan fuese más protagonista, pero he tenido la sensación de que en buena parte de la historia figura nada más que como un invitado de lujo, es la excusa perfecta para contarnos otra historia. La historia se centra mucho más en otro matemático, Hardy, y Ramanujan queda excluido en muchos moment ...more
Bravo to David Leavitt for doing a lot of research on Cambridge intellectual society shortly after the turn of the century. Who would have thought you could write a 500 page novel about early 20th mathematics and make it interesting? Here's the rub: based upon Leavitt's effort here, it's probably not possible. Actually, the "campus politics" aspect of the book keeps the plot simmering for the first ...more
I've known the name G.H. Hardy since high school; he was the Hardy who didn't write The Mayor of Casterbridge and Tess of ...more
You probably have to be a Brit-picker to catch some of the nuances that offend and irr ...more
Quite a bit later on:
I very much enjoyed this book, in much the same way that I loved Colm Toibin's The Master. It is quiet book; when your main characters are almost all people who end up on the quiet fringes of society during a massive World War, the drama that evolves is smaller, although no less deep for that. I have no opinion as to the book's accuracy as regards its treatment of these historical and r ...more
Based on a lecture given by a real-life Hardy in 1913, this intellectual and historical novel explores the beauty of mathematics, the nature of creativity, sexual repression, class relations, and the frailty of human connection-all set against the decline of empire and war. David Leavitt, best known for While England Sleeps (1993), impressed critics with his research and the novel's accessibility; even his discussions of the Riemann hypothesis and the secret order of the primes offered them inte...more
I knew nothing of Ramanujan before reading the book. I'm glad I met him and honor the memory of his short life.
Marilyn twisted my arm...5 stars. I'm such an easy grader. Perhaps I wanted things to turn out differently for our main characters!
how notoriously resistant numbers are to the ordering impulse that, by their very nature, they invoke.
he wrote out the primes, tried to see if there was reason to their ordering: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19 … It seemed there was none. Yet there had to be order, because numbers, by their very nature, conferred order. Numbers meant order. Even if the order was hidden, invisible.
The question was easy ...more
Archimedes will be remembered when Aeschylus is forgotten, because languages die and mathematical ideas do not. “Immortality” may be a silly word, but probably a mathematician has the best chance of whatever it may mean.
--G.H. Hardy, A Mathematician’s Apology
Curiosity is a wonderful thing. It leads us from familiar ground into unmapped territory. Curiosity led me to The Indian Clerk by David Leavitt after discovering the Indian mathematician Ramanujan in a children’s book about famous mathematic ...more
Leavitt, who is openly gay, has frequently explored gay issues in his work. He divides his time between Florida and Tuscany, Italy.