The Indian Clerk

The Indian Clerk

3.55 (1,376 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

On a January morning in 1913, G. H. Hardy - eccentric, charismatic and, at thirty-seven, already considered the greatest British mathematician of his age - receives a mysterious envelope covered with Indian stamps. Inside he finds a rambling letter from a self-professed mathematical genius who claims to be on the brink of solving the most important unsolved mathematical problem of his time. Some of his Cambridge colleagues dismiss the letter as a hoax, but Hardy becomes convinced that the Indian clerk who has written it - Srinivasa Ramanujan - deserves to be taken seriously. Aided by his collaborator, Littlewood, and a young don named Neville who is about to depart for Madras with his wife, Alice, he determines to learn more about the mysterious Ramanujan and, if possible, persuade him to come to Cambridge. It is a decision that will profoundly affect not only his own life, and that of his friends, but the entire history of mathematics. Based on the remarkable true story of the strange and ultimately tragic relationship between an esteemed British mathematician and an unknown - and unschooled - mathematical genius, and populated with such luminaries as D. H.
Lawrence, Bertrand Russell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, The Indian Clerk fashions from this fascinating period an exquisitely nuanced and utterly compelling story about the fragility of human connection and our need to find order in the world.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 496 pages
  • 154 x 228 x 32mm | 721.21g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Export ed
  • 0747593701
  • 9780747593706
  • 1,220,855

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Review quote

"Mathematics and its paradoxes provide a deep vein of metaphor that Leavitt uses to superb effect, demonstrating how the most meaningful relationships can defy both logic and imagination." -- "The New Yorker""Leavitt, a fine writer, has captured not just the complex nature of their partnership, but also a sense of the context: In his telling, England at the turn of the 20th century fits the phrase he uses to describe a particular boarding house, as "a room grown stale from its own protection." But beneath the surface of this story lurk issues that feel as fresh as today's news. Most importantly, the novel addresses the clash of cultures as Britain's empire-building came home to roost. "--"Seattle Times" "Ambitious, meaty, extensively researched...[a] richly layered, rueful portrait...Leavitt has tapped into marvelous material...stimulating and refreshingly original." -- "San Francisco Chronicle""This novel is brilliant. It is a beautiful and creative work that manages to portray a melange of the literary, historical, romantic and academic, with breathtaking prose and deeply nuanced characters."--"Pittsburg Post-Gazette""Fascinating...Leavitt makes the math of prime numbers surprisingly palatable. But we learn more about the complexities of love and work, and their interaction. In Hardy, Leavitt has created a rich character for the reader to care about." -- "Boston Globe""[E]rudite and well researched, and Leavitt writes about pure mathematics in a way that won't utterly baffle those of us who didn't get beyond pre-calculus in high school ." --"Christian Science Monitor""In the most common type of historical novel, invented characters inhabit a real place at a particular point in time...The second type, rarer in so-called literary fiction, is a novel about people who really existed, recreated by an author who plays with the facts, and especially the intriguing lacunae, of their lives. "The Indian Clerk," David Leavitt's richly imagined seventh no
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About David Leavitt

David Leavitt is the author of several novels including The Lost Language of Cranes, three story collections and, most recently, The Body of Jonah Boyd. He lives in Gainesville and teaches at the University of Florida.
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Rating details

1,376 ratings
3.55 out of 5 stars
5 16% (225)
4 40% (552)
3 30% (406)
2 10% (141)
1 4% (52)
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