Books

Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity In an inspired bit of stunt casting, the creators of ''Great Discoveries'' (a new series in which name-brand authors present histories of scientific...Everything and More: A Compact History of InfinityNonfiction In an inspired bit of stunt casting, the creators of ''Great Discoveries'' (a new series in which name-brand authors present histories of scientific...2003-10-10
B+

Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity

Genre: Nonfiction; Author: David Foster Wallace; Status: In Season

In an inspired bit of stunt casting, the creators of ”Great Discoveries” (a new series in which name-brand authors present histories of scientific breakthroughs) have paired the ”Infinite Jest” novelist with Georg Cantor, the inventor of transfinite math. Wallace, who professes to have a ”medium-strong amateur interest in math and formal systems,” lays everything out clearly – the theories, axioms, proofs, ancient paradoxes of infinity. He even tells you which bits are skippable by, alternately, the math savvy and the calculus-impaired. It’s common to say that gripping books built of fact read like novels; wonderfully, this one doesn’t: Wallace’s straightforward engagement with ultimate abstractions and unambiguous truths offers a heady pleasure distinct from that of fiction.

Originally posted October 10 2003 — 12:00 AM EDT

More from Our Partners