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Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  62,012 ratings  ·  4,410 reviews
This masterpiece of science (and mathematical) fiction is a delightfully unique and highly entertaining satire that has charmed readers for more than 100 years. The work of English clergyman, educator and Shakespearean scholar Edwin A. Abbott (1838-1926), it describes the journeys of A. Square [sic – ed.], a mathematician and resident of the two-dimensional Flatland, where ...more
Paperback, Dover Thrift Edition, 96 pages
Published September 21st 1992 by Dover Publications, Inc. (first published 1884)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  62,012 ratings  ·  4,410 reviews

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Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
When you read this book, keep two things in mind. First, it was written back in 1880, when relativity had not yet been invented, when quantum theory was not yet discovered, when only a handful of mathematicians had the courage (yet) to challenge Euclid and imagine curved space geometries and geometries with infinite dimensionality. As such, it is an absolutely brilliant work of speculative mathematics deftly hidden in a peculiar but strangely amusing social satire.

Second, its point, even about i
Take a classically styled, 19th century satire about Victorian social mores…dress it up in dimensional geometry involving anthropomorphized shapes (e.g., lines, squares, cubes, etc.)…bathe it in the sweet, scented waters of social commentary…and wrap it all around humble, open-minded Square as protagonist.

The result is Flatland, a unique “classic” parked at the intersection of a number of different genres, thus pinging the radar of a wider than normal audience to appreciate (or detest) it. Sinc
Michael Finocchiaro
A curious little novella about a man a two-dimensional world thinking literally out of the box. First he explains his world in which the angles you have the higher social status you have in Flatland - Circles being the highest rank. He meets someone from Lineland (one-dimensional) who is incapable of understanding Flatland and he meets Sphere from Spaceland (three dimenions) and he is able himself to comprehend the difference between "up" and "North". However, Sphere cannot extrapolate to 4+ dim ...more
May 30, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maths, politics, humour
Imagine losing or gaining a spatial dimension

Living in a 3D world, my mind was pleasingly warped when I watched this 7-minute Action Lab video, explaining what a 4D ball would look like in 3D. I sent it to Apatt who likened it to And He Built a Crooked House, which in turn, reminded me of a book I’d heard of, Flatland.

Reading them one after the other was enjoyably challenging. This is a review, and star rating, of both.

And He Built a Crooked House
About a 4D construction, by Robert Heinlein, 19
Ahmad Sharabiani
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, Edwin A. Abbott

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is a satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott, first published in 1884 by Seeley & Co. of London.

Written pseudonymously by "A Square", the book used the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland to comment on the hierarchy of Victorian culture, but the novella's more enduring contribution is its examination of dimensions.

The story describes a two-dimensional world occupied by geome
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: popular-math
When it comes to genre this book is in its own: let me call it satirical math. It anybody can come up with a better term, I am opened to suggestions. The story takes part in a flat country (universe?) where everything has only width and height - in other words, in a flat surface, like a picture. All the women in the country are straight lines and men are equilateral polygons - the more sides, the higher the status in their society. The top guy has so many sides he is indistinguishable from a cir ...more
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
“I used to be a renegade, I used to fool around
But I couldn't take the punishment and had to settle down
Now I'm playing it real straight, and yes, I cut my hair
You might think I'm crazy, but I don't even care
Because I can tell what's going on
It's hip to be square”

Huey Lewis And The News - Hip To Be Square

According to IMDB, several film adaptations have been made of Flatland, but no blockbusting Pixar / DreamWorks extravaganza just yet. If they do make one I can’t imagine a more appropriate t
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book should not be read in hopes of finding an entertaining story. As a novel, it's terrible. It's plot (if you can call it that) is simple and contrived. But, it wasn't written as a novel.

Flatland is a mathematical essay, meant to explain a point: that higher dimensions (more than length, depth and width) may be present in our universe, but if they are, it will be nearly impossible for us to understand them.

The story itself consists of a two dimensional world (Flatland), in which there are
I give it an extra star for it's originality, it's uniqueness. The concept was genius, Abbott was probably a math genius himself. However, as a work of literature it does not hold up well. It has a shadowy similarity to Gulliver's Travels, but falls well short of that Swift classic. ...more
This was one crazy, opium fuelled, brilliant book about geometry and different dimensions and I am going to explain it the best way I can but Edwin A Abbott does it so much better.

Here is a story of Square who is a square and lives in a two dimensional world of geometrical figures. The first part of the book talks about the social breakdown of the Flatland and it is a thinly disguised satire on the Victorian society. People are divided into classes according to their geometry and the worst off a
Nandakishore Mridula
At the outset... the 5 stars are entirely subjective. I love maths, I love playing mathematical games, I love philosophising about maths. So this book is perfect for me. But if maths is not your cup of tea, you may not enjoy it as much as I did.

I first read about this book in one of Martin Gardner's "Mathematical Games" anthologies, and was enthralled by the concept. (In fact, he discusses two books: Flatland by Edwin A. Abbot and An Episode of Flatland by Charles Hinton written with the same pr
Paul E. Morph
What a fantastic little thought-experiment, only really half-disguised as a story. Through his witty little parable, Abbott manages to explore the physical, mathematical, societal, philosophical and theological without once spoon-feeding his readers (OK, maybe there's a little bit of spoon-feeding in the earlier chapters).

It's only a shame, then, that this is without a doubt the most misogynist book I've ever read in my forty-odd years... Oh, well; I suppose nothing's perfect...
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Quite a charming allegory for the English society of the time, and boy does it show it's age. This is basically covered by everyone who reviewed this book, so I am not going to talk about that. What I noticed and I haven't seen anybody mention this yet, is the fact that at the time when this book was written Darwinian evolution has already grasped popular imagination. Just look how he talked about careful pairings between men and women to produce an equilateral triangle and then how each generat ...more
3.5 stars.

This is a very personal rating. I think I would’ve enjoyed this far more if I’d read it 10-20 years ago. The parts that were a pleasant surprise existed only to facilitate all the things I largely already knew.

This is by no means a bad book. On the one hand, this is a remarkable work of creativity by a man whose passion for his subject shines on every page. On the other, it may be better suited to capture the imagination of people in the early stages of their love for maths, geometry
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
For the most part I hate maths, other than stats & arithmetic, but I loved this absolutely mad book!

My copy didn't come with the line drawings, but they are available on I only found this site after I finished my read last night. I was happy with my imagination travelling with A Square trying to puzzle out his universe!

I wish I had discovered this book when I was at intermediate school. I was decent at maths until Year 10 and using my love of words may ha
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, 4-star-5-star
A world where every character is a shape, but only seen on a side view so everybody looks like a straight line. That's why the would is called flatland because everything is in 2 dimensions.

THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ! It's so trippy and it's really funny too. I can't just give funny quotes though because you need to know the context from the beginning of the chapter and then the context of the chapter before that to get the humor.

Some quotes to give an idea of what the book is like
Wee Lassie
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is without a doubt, the weirdest book I've ever read. Took me a little while to get into but once I did, I couldn't put the thing down. I would heartely recomend this to anyone not put off by the idea of shapes being the main characters. ...more
Charles  van Buren
Sep 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very strange

Review of free Kindle edition
124 pages

I have long considered FLATLAND to be an overrated mostly boring book. However it is supposed to be a classic, admired and enjoyed by many people some of whom are considered to be or consider themselves to be intellectuals. So I thought, maybe it's me. Maybe a deficiency in my ability to grasp the fine qualities of the book prevents me from understanding how great it is. Or maybe my imagination is sub par. Then I read a passage ab
Roy Lotz
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
For why should you praise, for example, the integrity of a Square who faithfully defends the interests of his client, when you ought in reality rather to admire the exact precision of his right angles? Or again, why blame a lying Isosceles, when you ought rather to deplore the incurable inequality of his sides?

This is one of those delightful little books, so difficult to review because its charms require no toil to appreciate, and also because the book is so short you might as well read it
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-philosophy
My 4th best read of 2020.
An incredible, timeless book.

Flatland should be prescribed reading for mathematics in secondary school, because it teaches so much conceptually using basic mathematics that everyone can understand. My interpretation below might clarify what I mean.

It demonstrates the utility of mathematics is abstraction, not measurement. It's what the units 'represent' that enables and motivates quantitative calculations. By counting something we bring a perception into existence, and
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
"Flatland" is a mathematical satire and religious allegory, written in the shape of the memoirs of A Square, an inhabitant of a two-dimensional world, who had visited other lands - Pointland, Lineland and Spaceland - and gained invaluable insights into the structure of the Universe. Though these journeys and dreams/visions sound like a religious experience (and Edwin Abbott himself was a theologian), the main goal of "Flatland" - to make us think outside the observable world and imagine new dime ...more
The narrator, a shape living in a two-dimensional universe, has his thought-world turned upside down went he meets a mysterious being from a three-dimensional world. 3D creature proceeds to blow 2D creature's mind by exposing him (view spoiler) to 1 dimensional world, who however in turn refuses to accept the possibility of 4, or more D , world (s). This notion of perspective and liberation from one's own perspective gives the work a ...more
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite obnoxiously dated in certain regards, but does have lasting demonstrations on principles of dimensions, and some apparent gems in analogy, too.

The following quote in particular stood out to me; if not for the intended purpose, but seemingly quite perfect as a description of the limitation in expressing and interpreting our true selves the best we can through variation of languages and cultural differences.

"When you entered the realm of Lineland, you were compelled to manifest yourself to t
Harry Whitewolf
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic-fic
Don't be a square - read this book by A. Square; the author of this tale who describes the worlds of Pointland, Lineland, Flatland and Spaceland and the idea of other lands which mathematically and logically lie beyond the latter. This book has just joined the ranks of my all time favourite classics of original genius, such as Micromegas, The Little Prince and Ways of Seeing. In fact, this book's better than those three combined. Simply brilliant. ...more
Jon Nakapalau
Aug 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, math
I have to be honest...did not get as much from this book as I could have because of my decayed math skills (not that there was ever much there to decay). But it was a "bucket-list" book that I thought was quite inventive. ...more
Timothy Urges
This may be allegory and/or satire, but I was hella bored. Chapter 1 is genius. The rest did nothing for me.

Concept > execution.
aPriL does feral sometimes
'Flatland' is amazing. Dimensions are the point of the tale. And the line, the square and the solid cube. (Sorry about being so oblique, but I often angle for a laugh at the beginning of a review, no matter how circuitous.)

The author Edwin Abbott Abbott with a wink and a smile introduces us to the science of geometry in the Victorian Age in this (a)cute story about A. Square. To understand the concepts that these surprisingly charming fantasy characters who live in a two-dimensional world illust
Mar 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is just brilliant. Written by a British mathematician in 1881, it’s a short fantasy novel about life in two dimensions. People in this book live in a two-dimensional world. They're not aware of, or can't even imagine, the third dimension. They have simple geometrical shapes like triangles and squares and other polygons. The higher the number of the sides, the higher the individual is in the social hierarchy. Those who have so many sides that they resemble a circle are priests. The land ...more
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is a satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott, first published in 1884.

This is a book that should appeal to any math major. In fact, a good friend said she had to read it in high school for geometry class.

I consider myself a lover of geometry; it was one of my favorite subjects in high school. This book presents geometry in a new way. (At least it was so to me.)

Flatland is a 2 dimensional universe, right? Still, if viewed from the c
David Sarkies
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Prepare to Have Your Head Hurt
7 July 2018 – Brunswick Heads

Well, this is a strange little book, but then again it did remind me a lot of Gulliver’s Travels, at least with the first part, because in the second part it starts to get really strange. Mind you, while there are some things in this book that I didn’t think quite worked, but we need to remember that what Abbott is doing here (or should I actually refer to the real author – A. Square) is trying to imagine a world of two dimensions, and
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From Biography Base:

Edwin Abbott Abbott, English schoolmaster and theologian, is best known as the author of the mathematical satire Flatland (1884).

He was educated at the City of London School and at St John's College, Cambridge, where he took the highest honours in classics, mathematics and theology, and became fellow of his college. In 1862 he took orders. After holding masterships at King Edwa

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