+ Mathematics! Logic! Philosophy! Comic Book?

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Graphic novel “Logicomix,” is based on the early life of brilliant philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell and his impassioned search for truth.  

Authors Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou are academic mathematicians and writers who wanted to create an “honest-to-God yarn, simply a story.”  But in this case, the heroes are all logicians.

In Publisher’s Weekly, Calvin Reid says

It’s difficult not to be dazzled by Apostolos Doniadis and Christos Papadimitriou’s Logicomix.  It’s a biography of the mathematician/philosopher Bertrand Russell, a fiercely engaging examination of his elusive attempt to isolate the logical foundations of mathematics, and a rousing historical yarn.

And all of Logicomix’s storytelling and intellectual pyrotechnics are delineated in extraordinarily crisp, cleverly designed and beautifully colored artwork by the team of Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna. 

What a Comic book!  Easily one of the most impressive combinations of popular art and serious history that I’ve encountered in prose or comics.

A dramatic story of madness and reason, love and war, this is a story about the conflict between an ideal rationality and the unchanging, flawed fabric of reality.   In his agonized search for absolute truth, Russell crosses paths with legendary thinkers like Gottlob Frege, David Hilbert, and Kurt Godel.  He finds a passionate student in the great Ludwig Wittgenstein.

But truth eludes him.  According to historian Howard  Zinn

This is an extraordinary graphic novel, wildly ambitious in daring to put into words and drawing the life and thought of one of the great philosophers of the last century…  The book is a rare intellectual and artistic achievement, which will, I am sure, lead its readers to explore realms of knowledge they thought were forbidden to them.

“Logicomix” is at the same time a historical novel and an accessible introduction to some of the biggest ideas of mathematics and modern philosophy. 

Barry Mazur is Gerhard Gade University Professor at Harvard.  He has written that

This magnificent book is about ideas, passions, madness, and the fierce struggle between well-defined principle and the larger good.  It follows the great mathematicians — Russell, Whitehead, Frege, Cantor, Hilbert — as they agonized to make the foundations of mathematics exact, consistent, and complete.  And we see the band of artists and researchers — and the all-seeking dog Manga — creating, and participating in, this glorious narrative.

Writer Apostolos Doxiadis studied mathematics at Columbia.  His international bestseller “Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture” was the first novel to make fascinating fiction out of mathematics.  He has awards from his work in film and theater, and is also a pioneer in the study of the interaction of mathematics and narrative.

Co-writer Christos Papadimitriou is the C. Lester Hogan Professor of Computer Science at UCLA Berkeley.  He has won numerous international awards for pathbreaking work in computational complexity and algorithmic game theory.  He is also the author of the novel “Turing: A Novel About Computation.” 

The graphic artists are a husband and wife team, Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna.  Papadatos worked for over twenty years in film animation in France and Greece.  In 1997 he became a cartoonist for the major Athens daily To Vima

Annie Di Donna studied graphic arts and painting in France and has worked as an animator on many productions, among them Babar and Tintin cartoons.  The couple have been running an animation studio since 1991.

Michael Harris, professor of mathematics at the Universite Paris 7 and member of the Institut Universitaire de France,

The lives of ideas (and those who think them) can be as dramatic and unpredictable as any superhero fantasy.  Logicomix is witty, engaging, stylish, visually stunning, and full of surprising sound effects, a masterpiece in a genre for which there is as yet no name.

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth,” by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, is published by Bloomsbury USA.  ISBN-10 1-59691-452-1; ISBN-13 9978-1-59691-452-0.

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021   or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com  

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