The second book is the 19th-century novel Flatland. This is a classic work that must be read by anyone interested in higher dimensions, as it has been an important influence on geometers and other scientists ever since its publication in 1884. It chronicles the adventure of a creature living in a two-dimensional world, and how he comes to learn ways of understanding a fictitious three-dimensional space. We are meant to use this as a pattern for trying to visualize four- and higher-dimensional spaces. In addition to having a mathematical agenda, Flatland is a social commentary on Victorian English society, particularly on the way it treated women and the poor. In good Swiftian tradition, Abbott has exaggerated these oppressive customs in his planar community as a means of satirising his own society.
In addition to these longer books, we will be reading several short stories or excerpts that address the fourth dimension, and will view mathematical videotapes when appropriate to the subject.