The author, a professional mathematician as well as a member of the Oulipo literary group, wrote this unusual novel whose protagonist is not a person or animal but a formula. At least, that is what I conclude from the snippets of information I have gathered about it. Since I have not yet been able to obtain a copy (and would be severely limited by my lack of fluency in French even if I had), anything I say about the book below could well be wrong. But, in the interest of providing visitors to this site with as much information as I can, I will proceed nonetheless:
It seems that Stokes' theorem (which equates the integral of some form over the boundary of a geometric object with another integral of the derivative of the form over the entire object) is anthropomorphized here and described as "the heroine of the story". She is said to "wear different attire" as she appears to mathematicians Gauss, Bourbaki, Green, Kelvin, Stokes, Riemann and Cartan. Historical events and dramatic locations may form the backdrop, but the development of this mathematical idea through to its most modern form apparently *is* the plot.
I do look forward to reading this book someday and will post more information about it when I have been able to do so. Until then, if you are someone who has been lucky enough to read it, please share your thoughts with the rest of us by writing to me at kasmana@cofc.edu and I will happily post your remarks here.
Oh, I almost forgot: Although I knew of Michele Audin's mathematical research already, because it is in my own field of integrable systems, I did not know that she was writing fiction until it was brought to my attention by Allyn Jackson of the American Mathematical Society. Thank you, "axj"! |