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logicomix

I don’t read a lot of graphic novels and I’ve certainly never read one about Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) and the project of putting mathematics on solid philosophical ground. Logicomix (2009) is exactly this. Writers Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou (art by Alecos Padatos and Annie Di Donna) give a nice telling of the story, combining social and political context, as well as personal influences on the men who developed some of these ideas. Their history is pretty good, though they do take some license with the facts (owning up to it at the end) and explore a potential relationship between mathematical genius and going insane — a cliché we seen explored uncountably many times (Pi, Good Will Hunting, A Beautiful Mind, Proof, etc.) and one I wouldn’t have missed here. Nevertheless, it’s a good, quick read, despite an ending that falls flat as it tries to use drama tries to talk about the (large amounts of) truth and wisdom outside of formal logic.

Read Logicomix if you want a quick, entertaining review of some of themes from late 19th and early 20th century mathematics and logic — or if you’re just tired of graphic novels by Neil Gaiman and the like.

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