Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

derek beaulieu

Afterword by Marjorie Perloff

Price £9.95+pp
ISBN 9780955309250
Year 2007
Edition 250
Pages 110
Binding soft; perfectbound
Illustration BW illustrations throughout
Dimensions 215 x 140 mm

Edwin A. Abbot’s famed science fiction novella from 1884, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, is spatially and conceptually appropriated by beaulieu in his acclaimed book-as-poetic-diagram of the same name.

In prose form, Abbot described a two-dimensional universe inhabited by polygons, one of whom narrates the reader through an encounter with the inconceivable: a third dimension. In a hyper-exaggeration of the printed page as a representational form, beualieu extends Abbot’s premise by turning every page in the Princeton University Press edition (1991) into an alphabetical line drawing, and inverts the ‘encounter with the inconceivable’ for his three-dimensional readers by deleting all the text and posing a poem that makes no allusion beyond two-dimensions.

The resulting graphical poem riffs off the common appropriation of Abbot’s story for the teaching of geometry to school students; engages the double-function of printed material as both presentation and representation; and is contextualised as an avant agarde literary act in the Afterword by renowned American critic Marjorie Perloff.

As the Greenbergian modernists proclaimed the flatness of the canvas, so derek beaulieu reduces the page to a flat plane. The result is a new kind of flatness—call it non-illusionistic literature—a depthless fiction, one where image and narrative is reduced to line and shadow. In the great tradition of Picabia, beaulieu creates a perfect work of mechanical writing with one foot in the concrete poetic past and another in the flat screen future.”

—Kenneth Goldsmith, poet & Founding Editor of UBUweb

In Flatland, Beaulieu excavates the fertile ground between form and content, gesture and geography, and word and meaning. He challenges the physicality of the page as a bodily engagement in recuperating
essential ideas embedded in writing as communication.”

—Marc Boutin, recipient of the 2006 Progressive Architecture Award & 2002 Prix de Rome

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

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