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The Emergence of the Fourth DimensionHigher Spatial Thinking in the Fin de Siècle$
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Mark Blacklock

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198755487

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198755487.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 November 2020

A Square

A Square

Flatland, Play, and Tradition

(p.72) 3 A Square
The Emergence of the Fourth Dimension

Mark Blacklock

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 considers the first English-language higher spatial fiction, Edwin Abbott Abbott’s Flatland (1884). Flatland marks a crucial juncture in the n-dimensional turn, a deceptively complex and playful literary response that inserted the palpably difficult idea of higher-dimensional space into the cultural sphere. This chapter disinters its satirical forebears and works through the criticism of the text in an effort to construct a usable critical paradigm, focusing on pedagogy, rhetoric, imagination, and space. It analyses the play with analogy of Flatland, and how it may consider its own functioning as a model. Considering at some length A Square’s continuation of the text into post-publication correspondence, a meta-textual ploy that works to expand the text dimensionally, constituting new dimensions of reading in other locations, it argues that Flatland is an active participant in modelled higher dimensionality.

Keywords:   Flatland, geometric fiction, analogy, satire, Edwin Abbott

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