The Development and Legacy of the Mathematical Imagination of F.M. Dostoevsky: Reconstructing the Education of the Novelist at the Main Engineering School, 1838-1843 (Dissertation companion website)

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Prior to becoming a man of letters, F.M. Dostoevsky (1821-1881) studied at the Main Engineering School [Glavnoe inzhenernoe uchilishche] in St. Petersburg from 1838 to 1843. Although most scholars discount the lasting legacy of his engineering studies, the literary aesthetics of his works communicate an awareness of mathematical principles and debates. In the context of nineteenth-century Russian literature, Dostoevsky is perhaps the only major novelist to have embedded explicit mathematical expressions and terminology in his prose. His works, for example, contain references to “square roots”, “logarithmic tables”, “repeating decimals”, and the curious equation, “2×2=5.”

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Copyright © 2014 University of Virginia. This dissertation companion accompanies the dissertation The Mathematical Genius of F.M. Dostoevsky: Imaginary Numbers, Statistics, Non-Euclidean Geometry and Infinity (August 2016).

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