Article ID: CBB000932146

Calculating the Limits of Poetic License: Fictional Narrative and the History of Mathematics (2007)


This essay seeks to clarify the role played by poetic license in the triangular relationship involving mathematics, the history of mathematics, and mathematics in fiction. This relationship can be analyzed, in the first place, from the perspective offered by the well-known Aristotelian distinction between history and poetry. It can also be analyzed from the point of view of the kind of language typically used in texts produced in each of these realms, or, alternatively, from the point of view of the nature of their expected audiences. It will be seen, however, that the most illuminating perspective for this analysis is the one related to the kind of attitude that is expected from the reader in each case, whether critical or based on a suspension of disbelief. To the considerations that pertain to this latter perspective when it comes to texts of any kind, the peculiarities of mathematical texts add some unique twists.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article Rafał T. Prinke; Mike A. Zuber; (2020)
'Learn to Restrain Your Mouth': Alchemical Rumours and their Historiographical Afterlives (/isis/citation/CBB585369113/)

Article Middleton, Peter; (2012)
Dark Matters: Historicising Science and Poetry since 1950 (/isis/citation/CBB001213312/)

Article Rachel Trubowitz; (2017)
Reading Milton and Newton in the Radical Reformation: Poetry, Mathematics, and Religion (/isis/citation/CBB040242782/)

Chapter Paolo Maroscia; (2019)
Alla scoperta del non detto in matematica e in poesia (/isis/citation/CBB164586148/)

Article Desai, Adhaar Noor; (2015)
Number-Lines: Diagramming Irrationality in “The Phoenix and Turtle” (/isis/citation/CBB001553524/)

Article Brown, Daniel Walter; (2010)
Field Studies: Novels as Darwinian Niches, Poetry for Physicists and Mathematicians (/isis/citation/CBB001022445/)

Chapter Giulio Ferroni; (2019)
Il punto e il cerchio: geometria dantesca (/isis/citation/CBB919628327/)

Chapter Lolli, Gabriele; (2018)
Ambiguità in matematica e letteratura (/isis/citation/CBB770507562/)

Chapter Lucia Perrone Capano; (2018)
Matematica e poesia in Novalis (/isis/citation/CBB167275306/)

Book Gabriele Lolli; (2011)
Discorso sulla matematica. Una rilettura delle Lezioni americane di Italo Calvino (/isis/citation/CBB635655321/)

Article McCartney, Mark; (2011)
The Poetic Life of James Clerk Maxwell (/isis/citation/CBB001034723/)

Chapter Carlo Toffalori; (2018)
Lo Cielo del Sole: la Matematica e Dante (/isis/citation/CBB188109492/)

Article Maria Terdimou; (2014)
Odysseas Elytis: The Arithmetician and Geometrician Poet (/isis/citation/CBB497769211/)

Article Emerson, Lori; (2009)
A Hyperspace Poetics, or, Words in Space: Digital Poetry through Ezra Pound's Vorticism (/isis/citation/CBB001031507/)

Thesis Edwards, Michael; (2004)
Geometric Theology and the Meaning of Clannesse in the Poems of the Pearl Manuscript (/isis/citation/CBB001561794/)

Thesis Joseph, Rima; (2006)
Paul Valéry: Parmi la mathématique (/isis/citation/CBB001561650/)

Book Luis Arturo Guichard; García Alonso, Juan Luis; María Paz Hoz (de); (2014)
The Alexandrian Tradition: Interactions between Science, Religion, and Literature (/isis/citation/CBB875455759/)

Chapter Paolo Maroscia; (2018)
La similitudine nella poesia e nella matematica (/isis/citation/CBB385755994/)

Chapter Agnese Ilaria Telloni; (2019)
Ragione e matematica nel pensiero di Giacomo Leopardi (/isis/citation/CBB682163677/)

Authors & Contributors
Maroscia, Paolo
Perrone Capano, Lucia
Lolli, Gabriele
Brown, Daniel Walter
Emerson, Lori
McCartney, Mark
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century
British Society for the History of Mathematics Bulletin
Journal of Literature and Science
ELH: English Literary History
Science and Education
Stanford University
University of California, Davis
Carocci Editore
Bollati Boringhieri
Peter Lang
Science and literature
Poetry and poetics
Metaphors; analogies
Science and religion
Interdisciplinary approach to knowledge
Alighieri, Dante
Pound, Ezra Loomis
Maxwell, James Clerk
Shakespeare, William
Valéry, Paul
Milton, John
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
20th century, late
21st century
20th century, early
Prague (Czechia)
Hellenistic world
Alexandria (Egypt)

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment