A Mathematician's Apology, Paperback Book

A Mathematician's Apology Paperback

Part of the Canto Classics series

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


G. H. Hardy was one of this century's finest mathematical thinkers, renowned among his contemporaries as a 'real mathematician ... the purest of the pure'. He was also, as C. P. Snow recounts in his Foreword, 'unorthodox, eccentric, radical, ready to talk about anything'.

This 'apology', written in 1940, offers a brilliant and engaging account of mathematics as very much more than a science; when it was first published, Graham Greene hailed it alongside Henry James's notebooks as 'the best account of what it was like to be a creative artist'.

C. P. Snow's Foreword gives sympathetic and witty insights into Hardy's life, with its rich store of anecdotes concerning his collaboration with the brilliant Indian mathematician Ramanujan, his idiosyncrasies and his passion for cricket.

This is a unique account of the fascination of mathematics and of one of its most compelling exponents in modern times.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 154 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Mathematics
  • ISBN: 9781107604636

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A Mathematician's Apology has been on my mental reading list for a long time and, like many titles on that mental list, I cannot understand how I didn't read it before. The edition contains a 50 page Foreword by C.P. Snow followed by the 90 page book by Hardy (actually, adjusting for different font sizes, the two parts are probably about equal in length). I read the book first so that I could think about it on its own terms and the Foreword afterwords. Both of them are outstanding and I would recommend reading them in that same reverse order.Hardy wrote A Mathematician's Apology in the twilight of his career when he no longer was a creative, productive mathematician--and one of the many apologies in the book is the very notion of writing about what mathematics rather than actually doing mathematics. He conveys an enormous love and wonder for the discipline, illustrates it with sketches of some proofs, reflects back on his own work and his partnerships with Ramanujan and Littlewood, and discusses the purpose or lack thereof for mathematics. The book itself beautifully conveys the creativity and beauty of mathematics and the process and drive that leads people to do it.C.P. Snow's Foreword is a mini-biography of Hardy, the almost novelistic story of Snow's friendship with Hardy (which begins and ends with discussions of cricket, starting when they met in the dining hall at Cambridge and ending on Hardy's deathbed), and a critical appreciation of A Mathematician's Apology.

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