Posts Tagged ‘penguin


Lewis Carroll in Numberland: His Fantastical Mathematical Logical Life

Lewis Carroll in Numberland: His Fantastical Mathematical Logical Life by Robin Wilson.

Paperback Penguin, 2009.

ISBN-13: 978-0141016108

Robin Wilson (born December 1943) is a Visiting Emeritus Professor in Pure Mathematics at the Open University, a Stipendiary Lecturer at Pembroke College, Oxford and professor of geometry at Gresham College.

He says:

In Graph Theory my main interests are in colouring problems – especially in edge–colourings of graphs and the four–colour problem. In the history of mathematics, I am interested in British mathematics – especially the 17th century and the period 1860 – 1940 and in the history of graph theory and combinatorics.

He’s apparently the son of Harold Wilson, former Prime Minister.

From the publisher’s blurb:

Lewis Carroll’s writings have inspired and entertained generations of readers, but now his forgotten achievements in the world of numbers are finally brought to light by highly acclaimed author and mathematician Robin Wilson. Here Wilson explores the singular imagination of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – known to millions around the world as Lewis Carroll – the creator of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass”. “Lewis Carroll in Numberland” shows how this incredible mind was not limited to the exuberant fantasy and word play of his children’s books which brim with mathematical allusions – arithmetical, geometrical, logical and mechanical. Dodgson’s exceptional talent as a mathematician won him the Christ Church Mathematical Lectureship at Oxford, a position he held for over twenty-six years. During this time he published extensively and brilliantly in the traditional fields of geometry, logic and algebra. Wilson’s passionate celebration of Dodgson’s mathematical achievements reveals that his work in numbers went far beyond the purely academic. We are taken inside the mind of a man who turned his mathematical genius to the study of voting patterns, to the design of tennis tournaments and even to the prolific creation and popularization of imaginative, numerical puzzles. This absorbing book introduces us to the mind behind the myth and shows the true range of Carroll’s extraordinary talents and numerous contributions to British society.

Bought on Amazon: Lewis Carroll in Numberland: His Fantastical Mathematical Logical Life


the magic of lewis carroll

The Magic of Lewis Carroll: edited by John Fisher.

Published by Penguin Books Ltd; New edition (30 Oct 1975).


ISBN: 0140040641

Fisher examines Carroll’s inventions of games and puzzles, and use of amateur magic tricks. Amongst other things, shows how to fold the Carpenter’s hat out of newspaper…

I love the cover illustration of this: it’s reversed on the back cover.

Publisher’s notes:

“In addition to being a lecturer in mathematics and a writer of fantasy for children, Lewis Carroll was a prolific inventor of games and puzzles and an adept amateur conjurer. The Magic Of Lewis Carroll explores these activities and attempts, in their light, to illuminate certain aspects of Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass. At the same time it brings together the most comprehensive collection of Carroll’s games and puzzles yet published.”

With illustrations by Sir John Tenniel, Henry Holiday, Arthur Frost, Harry Furniss and Lewis Carroll. Topics covered include `Thimble Thaumaturgy’, `Anagrams’, `Flower Riddle’, `Origami’, `Doublets’, and `Knot Two – Eligible Apartments’.

Given to me by David Hyatt-King: thanks!

Available on amazon: The Magic of Lewis Carroll


Alice in Puzzleland

Alice in Puzzleland by Raymond Smullyan. Illustrated by Greer Fitting.

Published by Penguin, 1984.

ISBN: 0140070567

A range of puzzles dealing with word play and logic, mathematics and philosophy, featuring Alice and the creatures of Wonderland.

“How do I know for sure that I’m awake?” asked Alice. “Why can’t it be that I’m now asleep and dreaming all this?”

“Ah, that’s an interesting question and one quite difficult to answer!” replied the King. “I once had a long philosophical discussion with Humpty Dumpty about this. Do you know him?”

“Oh, yes!” replied Alice.

“Well, Humpty Dumpty is one of the keenest arguers I know—he can convince just about anyone of just about anything when he puts his mind to it! Anyway, he almost had me convinced that I had no valid reason to be sure that I was awake, but I outsmarted him! It took me about three hours, but I finally convinced him that I must be awake, and so he conceded that I had won the argument. And then—”

The King did not finish his sentence but stood lost in thought.

“And then what?” asked Alice.

“And then I woke up!” said the King, a bit sheepishly.

Amazon: Alice in Puzzle-land


penguin vs. puffin

Two versions of Alice, one Penguin, one Puffin, one Wonderland, one Looking Glass. Both original author and illustrations.

Penguin: Popular Classics, published 1994

ISBN: 0140620877

Puffin: published 1962, this copy 1976.

ISBN: 0140301690

Not the most interesting things in my collection, but I do love the cover of the Puffin.

Both bought in Oxfam.


Aspects of Alice

Aspects of Alice: Lewis Carroll’s Dream Child as Seen Through the Critics’ Looking-glasses, 1865-1971 edited by Robert Philips. Published by Penguin 1971, this copy 1981.

ISBN: 0140037950

A collection of essays and criticisms on Alice, including contributions from Virginia Woolf,  Alexander Woolcot (Lewis Carroll’s Gay Tapestry), A.M.E. Goldschmidt (Alice in Wonderland Psychoanalyzed), John Skinner (About the Symbolisation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Edmund Wilson (C.L. Dodgson: The Poet Logician) and W.H. Auden.

Also has the lyrics to Grace Slick’s White Rabbit.

Eclectic, much?

My first copy belonged to dad, and is in pieces, but is precious. I have a newer reading copy, but this is rapidly heading the same way: it seems this book has a built in obsolescence…

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December 2020
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