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Circles DisturbedThe Interplay of Mathematics and Narrative$
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Apostolos Doxiadis and Barry Mazur

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691149042

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691149042.001.0001

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Vividness in Mathematics and Narrative

Vividness in Mathematics and Narrative

Chapter:
(p.211) Chapter 7 Vividness in Mathematics and Narrative
Source:
Circles Disturbed
Author(s):

Timothy Gowers

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691149042.003.0007

This chapter examines vividness in mathematics and narrative. It first gives two presentations of the mathematical notion of a group before explaining how to calculate highest common factors. It then considers the role of figures of speech, such as metaphor and irony, in mathematics and proceeds by citing a few passages from literature that highlight the use of concrete details to convey abstract thoughts; these include passages from Charles Dickens's Bleak House, Alan Hollinghurst's The Folding Star, and George Eliot's Middlemarch. The chapter argues that when working through a totally analogous process, exactly the same response can be created in certain mathematical texts.

Keywords:   mathematics, narrative, vividness, group, highest common factor, metaphor, irony, literature, Bleak House, Middlemarch

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