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On the bookseller's dilemma: "Where do I put a novel about scientists, in 'Fiction' or 'Popular Science'?"
In the last decade there has been an impressive rise in the number and popularity of novels whose protagonists are mathematicians or scientists. Yet, though the intention of the authors is often purely literary, many readers are attracted to these novels for the science. Starting from his experience of the writing and reception of Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture and Logicomix, Apostolos Doxiadis will discuss how this paradox is intimately related to the oldest expression of the "two cultures" argument, i.e. Socrates' theory of an "old quarrel between poetry and philosophy", and how it leads us to re-examine the nature and potential of storytelling.
Apostolos Doxiadis was born in Brisbane, Australia and grew up in Greece.
Although interested in fiction and the arts from his youngest years, a sudden and totally unexpected love affair with mathematics led him to New York's Columbia University at the age of fifteen. He did graduate work in Applied Mathematics at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, working on mathematical models for the nervous system.After his studies, Apostolos returned to Greece and his old loves of writing, cinema and the theater. For some years he directed and translated for the theatre, and in 1983 made his first film, Underground Passage (in Greek). His second film, Terirem (1986) won the prize of the International Center for Artistic Cinema (CICAE) at the 1988 Berlin International Film Festival. Since the mid-eighties, most of Apostolos' work has been in fiction. He has published four novels in Greek, Parallel Life (1985), Makavettas (1988), Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture (1992) and Three Little Men (1997).
His translation of Uncle Petros was published internationally in 2000, to great critical acclaim, and has since been translated into over forty languages. In autumn 2009 the graphic novel Logicomix was published, co-authored with Christos H. Papadimitriou, with art by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna. The book's story is based on the epic quest for the foundations of mathematics and has been translated, to date, into over twenty languages. It has received numerous awards, among them the Bertrand Russell Society Award, the Royal Booksellers Association Award (Holland), the Prix Tangente (France), the Premio Carlo Boscarato (Holland), the New Atlantic Booksellers Award (USA). It was a no. 1 New York Times Bestseller and was chosen as Non-Fiction Book of the Year by TIME Magazine, Publishers Weekly, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Globe and Mail, and other publications.
Apart from his work in the various modes of storytelling, Apostolos has been working on the study of theoretical aspects of narrative, as well as the relationship of mathematics and narrative. He has published numerous articles on this subject, including recent work on the genesis of mathematical-deductive proof in ancient Greece, as a development of poetic and narrative techniques. A volume on these subjects, co-edited with Barry Mazur, will be published in 2012 by Princeton University Press.
At 6:30pm on Saturday 1 October, Apostolos Doxiadis will be in conversation with Marcus Du Sautoy.
Books by Apostolos Doxiadis are available for sale on the Foyles bookstore website.
Saturday 1 October 2011, 2:30pm - 3:30pmKohn Centre, the Royal Society.
This event costs £4 per person.Tickets will be available on the door.
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