From the Stacks: Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

I read Flatland so many years ago that I don’t remember most of the details of the story. I do remember that I was captivated by the idea of a two-dimensional world inhabited by geometric figures and their struggle to comprehend worlds of one-dimensional and three-dimensional beings. The story was narrated by A Square, which also happened to be the pseudonym that Edwin Abbott Abbott used to disguise his identity when he published this satire on class and social problems in 19th century Britain. Flatland has been in print continuously since it was first published in 1884. One book publisher referred to Flatland as a precursor of modern science fiction. Special Collections has a first edition copy of this book. We also have a flat copy, our Arion Press edition.

In 1980 Arion Press published Flatland in an accordion-fold format of 56 folded panels. The book is bound in aluminum covers and is housed in an aluminum frame with a hinged top that closes with a clasp. The title is stamped on the covers in black. This edition was limited to 275 hand-numbered copies, of which our copy is 72. The introduction was written by Ray Bradbury and he has signed and numbered the book. The illustrations and 10 mounted die-cut panels were done by the printer, Andrew Hoyem, based on designs by the author. Hoyem signed the Colophon.

The panels for Flatland unfold to a length of 33 feet with text printed on each side, making this a 66 foot long book. Each panel of the book is 7 by 14 inches. Hoyem’s design is a creative expression of the plane of existence for the two dimensional story that Abbot tells. I am intrigued by this book every time I have the opportunity to look at it.

Arion Press was founded in San Francisco in 1974 by Andrew Hoyem and has been called the Nation’s leading publisher of fine-press books. They have printed 93 books to date, mostly by letterpress. The illustrations are often original prints by significant artists. Special Collections has a number of books published by Arion Press, including works by Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Jim Dine, and William Shakespeare, to name a few. Check the library catalog for a more complete listing of books by Arion Press in our collections.