Borges and Mathematics

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10/01/2012
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About this title

Andrea G. Labinger
Purdue University Press
2012
Professional & Scholarly

Description

Borges and Mathematics is a short book of essays that explores the scientific thinking of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986). Around half of the book consists of two “lectures” focused on mathematics. The rest of the book reflects on the relationship between literature, artistic creation, physics, and mathematics more generally. Written in a way that will be accessible even to those “who can only count to ten,” the book presents a bravura demonstration of the intricate links between the worlds of sciences and arts, and it is a thought-provoking call to dialog for readers from both traditions. The author, Guillermo Martínez, is both a recognized writer, whose murder mystery The Oxford Murders has been translated into thirty-five languages, and a PhD in mathematics.

Contents: Borges and Mathematics: First Lecture; Borges and Mathematics: Second Lecture; The Golem and Artificial Intelligence; The Short Story as Logical System; A Margin Too Narrow; Euclid, or the Aesthetics of Mathematical Reasoning; Solutions and Disillusions; The Pythagorean Twins; The Music of Chance (Interview with Gregory Chaikin); Literature and Rationality; Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad One?; A Small, Small God; God’s Sinkhole.

This book was originally published in Spanish as Borges y la matemática (2003). It has been translated with generous support from the Latino Cultural Center at Purdue University.

Key points:

  • Presents complex mathematical and literary concepts in a way that is accessible to non-specialists.
  • Promotes dialog between readers from both humanist and scientific traditions.
  • Expands understanding of the Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges, including presenting some never-before-translated work.

The cover image showing an ascending, curling staircase reflects the intricacies of Borges' thinking and was taken by Scott Schumacher. More examples of his work can be found at www.veryloud.com (email: scott [at] veryloud [dot] com).