Dungeons and dragons dm screen
N umber theory - what Gauss called "the queen of mathematics", devoted to the study of numbers and their arcane interrelationships - does not perhaps sound like the most fruitful basis for a poignant domestic drama.
And yet this novel, with its skilful admixture of tender atmospherics and stealthy education, has sold more than 4 million copies in its native Japan. Its unnamed characters suggest archetype or myth; its rapturous concentration on the details of weather and cooking provide a satisfyingly textured foundation. The book is narrated by the housekeeper of the title, a single mother employed by an agency, who is assigned a new client. He lives in a dingy two-room apartment, and his suit jacket is covered with reminder notes he scribbles to himself.
This is the Professor, a brilliant mathematician who suffered brain damage in a car accident in , and since then cannot remember anything for more than an hour and 20 minutes at a time.
What he can remember is mathematics. He asks for her shoe size and telephone number, and reflects on the mathematical properties of each. Once he has drawn a picture of her and clipped it to his suit so that he is not altogether surprised to see her every day, he begins to induct her into number theory. We learn about primes, triangular numbers, the invention of zero, and so on, in surprisingly warm-hearted scenes of exposition. Perhaps the Professor's most splendid speech dramatises prime-hunting as a quest through inhospitable country.
At first, the prime numbers are frequent, but "When you get to much bigger numbers - a million or 10 million - you're venturing into a wasteland where the primes are terribly far apart [ No matter how far you go, you don't find any.
Just sand as far as the eye can see. The sun shines down mercilessly, your throat is parched, your eyes glaze over. Then you think you see one, a prime number at last, and you go running toward it - only to find that it's just a mirage, nothing but hot wind. Still, you refuse to give up, staggering on step by step, determined to continue the search Soon the housekeeper begins to take her young son to work, and he and the old man become friends.
The Professor decides to call him Root, after the square-root sign, because the top of his head is flat: his mother never refers to him by any other name.
Subsequently, nothing much happens. There is a subplot about baseball, which may excite American readers more than British ones. The housekeeper takes the Professor to get his hair cut, after which she remarks, perfectly: "For once he smelled of shaving cream rather than of paper. The Professor wins a contest in a mathematics magazine and waves away congratulations, saying he just "peeked in God's notebook".
An old box is rummaged through. The characters age. The book as a whole is an exercise in delicate understatement, of the careful arrangement of featherlight materials into a surprisingly strong structure. The pure mountain air of number theory blows gently through all its pages, even if at one point there appears to be a blip in plausibility. The housekeeper, newly entranced by "amicable numbers" a pair of numbers A and B such that the factors of A add up to B, and vice versa , says that she spends part of one evening testing all the pairs of even numbers between 10 and manually to see if they are amicable.
By my calculation, there are 1, possible pairs of even numbers between 10 and inclusive, so this might take rather longer than she claims. Only at length does the reader wonder whether the touching illusion that Ogawa creates - of a lasting friendship with a man whose memory only lasts 80 minutes - was just that, an illusion.
One prefers to dismiss the thought, as one is sometimes reluctant to wake up from a beautiful dream. Topics Fiction. Reuse this content. Most popular.
Out of the crisis free download
He was famous in scientific circles for not being able to remember anything new longer than 15 minutes, due to an accident. He had spent the later part of his life in a Connecticut nursing home being a subject known only as H. A car accident has robbed him of the ability to remember any new memories for more than 80 minutes. For him time stopped in , when he was a prominent math teacher and the famed pitcher Yutaka Enatsu was mowing down batters for the Hanshin Tigers.
Nobody except Root really has a name. Every morning the housekeeper, who narrates the story, has to introduce herself and her son to the professor all over again. He, in turn, as he does whenever he is stuck or flustered or has extended his minute window, is likely to ask her shoe size or her telephone number. He always has something amazing to say about whatever number comes up. Take, for example, the jersey number of his beloved Enatsu, 28, the second smallest so-called perfect number that is, the sum of all its factors excluding the number itself.
He adds a picture of the boy to the note he keeps pinned to himself to remind him of his new housekeeper. One subplot revolves around the effort to take the professor out to a baseball game.
By the standards of conventional melodrama, nothing much happens in the novel. Yet by those standards, nothing much happens when you count 1, 2, 3. Still, as the professor will tell you, and the housekeeper and her son will discover, the opposite is true. This is one of those books written in such lucid, unpretentious language that reading it is like looking into a deep pool of clear water.
And, of course: Where do numbers come from? The musty paper smell from the study clung to the professor. If we all had learned math from such a teacher we would all be a lot smarter. Home Page World U.