Cover: The Topological Imagination: Spheres, Edges, and Islands, from Harvard University PressCover: The Topological Imagination in HARDCOVER

The Topological Imagination

Spheres, Edges, and Islands

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$43.00 • £37.95 • €39.95

ISBN 9780674504561

Publication Date: 04/04/2016


224 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 halftone, 1 line illustration


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Angus Fletcher’s new book brings the mathematical richness of topological connectivity to bear on our understanding of the literate power of imagination and its potential for metaphor. Synthesizing insights from the arts and sciences, Fletcher offers a visionary proposal for navigating our contemporary condition. With brilliance and brio, The Topological Imagination charts the flow of our life along the edges of our biosphere.—O. Bradley Bassler, author of The Pace of Modernity

In Angus Fletcher’s fascinating, deliciously abstract, but literally down-to-earth meditations on the topological imagination, we are given a subtle new synthesis, new insights into our site and situation, and, at least in this reader, an incitement to poeticize. Like his master figure, the sphere, Fletcher wraps up what was never really apart.—Dorion Sagan, author of Cosmic Apprentice

Angus Fletcher’s new book The Topological Imagination is a visionary work of literary criticism. In the tradition of Kant’s thought on the ‘schematizing’ function of the imagination, Coleridge’s ‘esemplastic’ powers of imagining, and Wittgenstein’s and Einstein’s meditations on ‘picturing,’ Fletcher explores the many ways shapes, surfaces, and edges are the playground of consciousness. Asking ‘how spectral is any apparently single thing? What if a single object is actually an odd combination of smaller objects? What happens when shapes are actually compound?,’ he demonstrates a fundamental affinity between the history of mathematics, geography, and cosmology and works of poetry and speculative thought. Along the way he illuminates, with his usual brilliance, writings by Ovid, Shakespeare, Donne, Browne, Vico, Clare, Emerson, Rachel Carson, Walker Evans, and many others. In a blinkered and divisive era, Fletcher has written a self-help book for our planet.—Susan Stewart, author of The Poet’s Freedom

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