Flatland

This is the second audio book that I’ve listened.  I prefer to read books rather than to have books read to me.  However, Flatland by Edwin Abbott, was a better audio book than print.  It allowed me to multi-task because the book bored me to death.  I wouldn’t have started it in the first place, but I’m determined to finish all of the books that my book club chooses to read.

Flatland is a Victorian satire, and not well done at that.  Flatland is a one Flatlanddimensional world made up of shapes like circles, rectangles, squares, hexagons, etc.  Each shape is part of a certain caste, e.g. women, soldiers, isosceles, gentlemen, and priests.  There’s no real plot rather a collection of anecdotes that share daily life in Flatland.

The first part of the novel is the narrator, who is a citizen of Flatland, describing the people, their society, their housing, blah blah blah.  Mr. Abbott does not understand the concept of show not tell.  He tells everything for the first 75 pages.  I believe he does it to try and set up the world and do it using, what I’m sure he believes, is a comical narrator.  Instead, it instilled in me a numb boredom and turned me off from the novel.

Some of the details do reveal satire about the Victorian era.  How colors and shapes determine who can marry who and what your place in society.  How men and women are kept, by laws, in separate castes.  The women are not expected to be smart and thus are not taught to read, write, or count.  Male children are taught two languages, the simple one of their female family members, and the more complex language of their male members.  I’ll allow Mr. Abbott some credit for tackling these issues that have plagued most Western societies, but particularly the Victorians who liked to categorize everyone into boxes and not allowing anyone out of those boxes.

I wouldn’t recommend this book at all.  Instead, if you’re interested in British satire, I would have you read Jonathan Swift or Charles Dickens.  This was not a good book at all.  Read at your own risk.

 

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