Everything and More

Paperback, 368 pages

Published June 2, 2005 by Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ).

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4 stars (3 reviews)

"A gripping guide to the modern taming of the infinite."—The New York Times. With a new introduction by Neal Stephenson.

Is infinity a valid mathematical property or a meaningless abstraction? David Foster Wallace brings his intellectual ambition and characteristic bravura style to the story of how mathematicians have struggled to understand the infinite, from the ancient Greeks to the nineteenth-century mathematical genius Georg Cantor's counterintuitive discovery that there was more than one kind of infinity. Smart, challenging, and thoroughly rewarding, Wallace's tour de force brings immediate and high-profile recognition to the bizarre and fascinating world of higher mathematics.

7 editions

Review of 'Everything and More' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I came across David Foster Wallace through his famous speech "This is Water". I then read some of his essays, about lobsters, about cruises, about severe depression and about how few good books there are on mathematics that can be understood by lay people.

The last essay in particular, "Rhetoric And The Math Melodrama", made me curious about how Wallace himself would write such a book on mathematics. And indeed, Everything and More is a unique non-fiction book.

I like the personal references: Wallace's niece is mentioned, the high school teacher gets a place of honour. I like how Wallace sketches the human side of the mathematicians (Kronecker, Cantor, Weierstrass, Dedekind et al) with one paragraph, I had an immediate image, and contrary to some biographies, I think these images are plausible.

I also like how he takes elements of textbooks on mathematics and plays with them. Abbreviations suddenly appear …

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  • Mathematics
  • Science/Mathematics