Georges perec

Reading, writing and arithmetic – the glorious interrelation of maths and literature

There are lots of reasons why non-scientists should be forced to study mathematics, but it’s hard to see why mathematicians should bother with literature. Literature is part of the entertainment industry: emotional manipulation, crippled by cheap assertions and hollow arguments. Maths is intellectual. Maths has rigorous standards. Literature hides guff under its pretty phrases. Hart discusses the statistical challenges for the Oulipo group and their refusal to use the letter ‘e’ in thir clvr novls Sarah Hart, a professor of mathematics, wants us to see literature and mathematics as the ancients did – mutually supportive, central elements of a rounded education.  Once Upon a Prime is an eager, straight-forward book.

The view from the Paris bus — an appreciation of everyday life

Many would say the commute was one thing they didn’t miss in lockdown. But when Lauren Elkin was ‘yanked out of the public sphere and resituated, inescapably, in the private’, she felt nostalgic for the bus’s incidental intimacy. The Franco-American writer and translator revisited notes made on her iPhone between September 2014 and November 2015, after she pledged to ‘observe the world through the screen of my phone, rather than to use my phone to distract myself from the world’. The diary entries record biweekly journeys between her home in Paris’s fifth arrondissement and the university where she taught in the seventh. These private jottings take shape as No. 91/92: