a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Account Unsettled [Crime Impuni] (1954)
Georges Simenon

Elie is a Polish Jew who has come to study math in pre-war France. He is noticeably anti-social and awkward. He seems to be aware of the landlady's daughter, but neither to be in love with her nor sexually attracted to her. Yet, when Michel (a Romanian Jew who speaks no French and is studying to be a mining engineer) begins a sexual relationship with her, Elie determines that Michel must be killed. In the tradition of the existentialist novel, even Elie does not really understand why he is compelled to this violent act, but at the end of the first half of the novel, he does attempt to kill Michel. Things do not quite go as planned, and he leaves Michel alive but badly wounded. The second half of the novel describes what happens when they meet, by chance, in the United States many years later.

Math is hardly ever mentioned. Elie's thesis advisor is described as being "a world-famous mathematician". Other people occasionally ask him how his thesis is going. In the first part of the book he is described as reading textbooks and exercise books. Even though he did not continue his studies and is employed at a hotel in the second half of the book, he is described as working with "figures". If the fact that he is studying mathematics matters at all, it is because of the stereotype of the anti-social mathematician that he represents.

Although written in Connecticut, this book was originally published in French and only released in an English translation in 1962. Thanks to Thomas Riepe for bringing it to my attention.

(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)

Works Similar to Account Unsettled [Crime Impuni]
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Wild Numbers by Philibert Schogt
  2. A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin
  3. Incendies by Denis Villeneuve / Valérie Beaugrand-Champagne / Wajdi Mouawad
  4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  5. Bonita Avenue by Peter Buwalda
  6. I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck
  7. The Proof of Love by Catherine Hall
  8. 36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Goldstein
  9. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  10. The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung
Ratings for Account Unsettled [Crime Impuni]:
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Mathematical Content:
1/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)

MotifAnti-social Mathematicians, Romance,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)