Flatland, Play, and Tradition
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.
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