College freshman algebra textbook, late 1960s
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When I was a freshman at New York University in Fall 1969, I had a textbook that, if my memory serves me correctly, had been written by Irving Adler, who at that time headed NYU's Mathematics Department. A noteworthy feature of this book was the introductory chapter, which included photos and B&W reproductions of artworks, with commentary. There was a photo of Duccio de Buoninsegna's masterpiece, "Maestà with Twenty Angels and Nineteen Saints." This was dissed since there was no psychological relationship between the figures. (The author's judgment, not mine.)
What I recall about the cover was that it was a hardback with a sort of yellowish-green or mustard-yellow (or both) cover in a tight buckram.
I have checked through a list of Irving Adler's works, including the Library of Congress listing, but was not able to match any to the textbook I'm seeking. (It may have been written in partnership with other authors, but wouldn't it still show up on a list of works by Adler?) I even contacted the Courant Institute of Mathematics, where the Mathematics Department is headquartered, and received a suggestion that it might be "The New Mathematics." It wasn't. (But I'm not recalling exactly . . . the suggestion I received was a book for the general reader; I was and am seeking a textbook.)
And . . . it might be another Adler entirely (e.g., Richard). I used to own Irving Adler's "Magic House of Numbers" and "Thinking Machines," so his name was familiar to me when I entered NYU.
I think you may be remembering Morris Kline rather than Irving Adler.
You might check out Morris Kline's Mathematics in Western Culture. If memory serves, Kline gives a mathematical critique of a couple of Duccio's works in that book.
Will do, and thanks! But I specifically remember that the Duccio critique was part of the freshman-algebra book, as the prefatory chapter. Might as well try barking up that tree!
Well, that's probably not it then.
Re: your parenthetical question in:
I have checked through a list of Irving Adler's works, including the Library of Congress listing, but was not able to match any to the textbook I'm seeking. (It may have been written in partnership with other authors, but wouldn't it still show up on a list of works by Adler?)
If you're talking about a search in the Library of Congress's catalog, then the answer is "not necessarily."
If Adler wrote the book with more than two other authors, then it probably won't show up in an author search unless Adler is the first author listed on the title page. Or if his only contribution was an introduction, preface, or afterword, then it probably won't show up in an author search. That has to do with cataloging rules.
Thanks for the insight. There's also OCLC WorldCat . . . well, I'll just keep a-chasin'.
Finally had a chance to do some retrieval (since Roochester (NY) Public Library's Morris Kline books are kept in closed stacks), and borrowed a copy of "Mathematics for Liberal Arts." I got a feeling of "deju lui" when I saw the cover: yellow with title and author's name in red capitals, one of Da Vinci's notebook entries (I think) in brown.
As for the Sienese paintings, there is a "Majesty" in Chapter 10, "Mathematics and Painting in the Renaissance," by Simone Martini, not Duccio. The pertinent passage reads, "Clearly, this is no real scene. The background is blue. Despite the assemblage the scene looks flat; the throne especially lacks depth. There is hardly the suggestion of a floor on which the figures stand, and these appear lifeless and unrelated to one another. Moreover, sizes are not important. This painting also illustrates another conceptual device used in medieval painting, known as terraced perspective. To show a group of people arranged in depth, those farther back are placed somewhat above those in front."
I am wondering if Kline wrote other mathematics books in which he made similar points about late-medieval painting. But this may be the book I've been looking for.
I'm not sufficiently familiar with Kline's larger oeuvre to be able to say. I know that he advocated reforming mathematics education, among other things making it more interdisciplinary, so it's possible.
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