Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Bedtime Reading

T.L. Heath (1861-1940), Introduction to The Elements of Euclid (1933; rpt. London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1948 = Everyman's Library, No. 891), p. vi:
I should be surprised if such qualified readers, making the acquaintance of Euclid for the first time, did not find it fascinating, a book to be read in bed or on a holiday, a book as difficult as any detective story to lay down when once begun. I know of one actual case, that of an undergraduate at Cambridge suddenly presented with a copy of Euclid, where this happened.

Thanks to Eric Thomson for drawing my attention to Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Autobiography (London: Routledge, 2010), p. 25:
At the age of eleven, I began Euclid, with my brother as my tutor. This was one of the great events of my life, as dazzling as first love. I had not imagined there was anything so delicious in the world.
and George Sturt (1863-1927), A Small Boy in the Sixties (Horsham, Sussex: Caliban Books, 1982), p. 238:
But I was never a mathematician; and when at last I revelled in Euclid the admiration it excited was of an unexpected kind. It was such clean and agile brain work. Though I could not exercise on the horizontal bar, I liked climbing over the Pons Asinorum; and if I shed tears over the Thirteenth Proposition, it was because its clearness suggested to me that there must be something more in it, which I was missing altogether. I never got far into Third Book; but the Second Book charmed me through and through. It seemed so shapely, so perfect; faultless as the "cuttle-bones" on Bognor beach, or as the sparrow's skull in my museum; or as the cast of Greek sculpture at the School of Art. It had its own finished and unimpeachable beauty.

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