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.

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Authors & Contributors
Maroscia, Paolo
Toffalori, Carlo
Perrone Capano, Lucia
Lolli, Gabriele
Kwapisz, Jan
Telloni, Agnese Ilaria
Science and Education
Journal of Literature and Science
ELH: English Literary History
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
British Society for the History of Mathematics Bulletin
University of California, Davis
Peter Lang
Carocci Editore
Bollati Boringhieri
Stanford University
Science and literature
Poetry and poetics
Mathematics and art
Interdisciplinary approach to knowledge
Language and languages
Alighieri, Dante
Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Elytis, Odysseas
Daniel Kehlmann
Milton, John
Valéry, Paul
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
Early modern
Hellenistic world
Mediterranean region
Prague (Czechia)

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