THE FRENCH MATHEMATICIAN book cover   The French Mathematician
Tom Petsinis

Cover: detail from Night and Day by Evelyn De Morgan

Dustjacket synopsis:

"The French mathematician is Evariste Galois, brilliant and tragic, whose work was dismissed by his contemporaries. A fervent Republican in post-Revolutionary France, Galois was imprisoned at the age of twenty and died a year later in a mysterious early-morning duel. Vivid in its depiction of a life in an age of Romanticism, this is a spirited, allusive and moving account of a young man caught in the tensions between history and the individual, order and choas, and genius and self-destructiveness."

"A tour de force of imagination and daring. Tom Petsinis appreciates the desperation of genius." - Robyn Williams
"As elegant, witty and poetic as mathematics itself." - Peter Goldsworthy

About the Author:
Tom Petsinis is a novelist, poet and playwright. His other books include the novel Raising the Shadow and the collections of poetry The Blossom Vendor, Offerings and Inheritance. His play, The Drought, was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Award and won the Wal Cherry Playscript of the Year. A forthcoming play, Salonika Bound, has been commissioned by Melbourne's Playbox Theatre.

Tom lives in Melbourne and lectures at the Victoria University of Technology in Footscray. He is married with two daughters.

First Paragraph:

i = an imaginary being

I had foreseen it all in precise detail. One step led inevitably to the next, like the proof of a shining theorem, down to the conclusive shot that still echoes through time and space. Face down in the damp pine needles, I embraced that fatal sphere with my whole body. Dreams, memories, even the mathematics I had cherished and set down in my last will and testament - all receded until there was nothing between the sphere and I. The following morning my consciousness disintegrated, and I was drawn toward the centre of the sphere, as though it were a black hole the size of a pupil dazzled by the sun. Its gravity reduced me to a singular point, and in an instant I was transformed to i.

From the Penguin paperback edition, 1997.

This page and its contents are copyright © 2000-01 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: January 30, 2001.