## Archive for **June 2010**

## Romantic mathematics

Here is a short quotation from the excellent book *Duel at Dawn: Heroes, Martyrs, and the Rise of Modern Mathematics*, by Amir Alexander:

The iconic tale of the tragic romantic mathematician, it seems clear, was both novel and exclusive in the early nineteenth century—novel because it ran counter to the images that had prevailed only a few years earlier, when mathematicians were more likely to be viewed as simple natural men than as striving romantic heroes; exclusive because the new story was reserved, among the sciences, to mathematics alone. Only mathematics came to be viewed as a quest for pure sublime truth, only mathematics was perceived as a creative art rather than a science, and only mathematicians became tragic romantic strivers in the manner of contemporary poets, painters, and musicians. It can well be said that in the early nineteenth century mathematics took leave of the natural sciences, which had been its companions for millennia, and sought a place for itself instead with the creative arts.