G. H. Hardy was one of this century's finest mathematical thinkers, renowned among his contemporaries as a 'real mathematician ... the purest of the pure'. He was also, as C. P. Snow recounts in his Foreword, 'unorthodox, eccentric, radical, ready to talk about anything'. This 'apology', written in 1940, offers a brilliant and engaging account of mathematics as very much more than a science; when it was first published, Graham Greene hailed it alongside Henry James's notebooks as 'the best account of what it was like to be a creative artist'. C. P. Snow's Foreword gives sympathetic and witty insights into Hardy's life, with its rich store of anecdotes concerning his collaboration with the brilliant Indian mathematician Ramanujan, his idiosyncrasies and his passion for cricket. This is a unique account of the fascination of mathematics and of one of its most compelling exponents in modern times.… (more)
It is a melancholy experience for a professional mathematician to find himself writing about mathematics.
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Un uomo che si chieda continuamente se val la pena di fare quello che fa, e se è la persona giusta per farlo, non concluderà mai nulla di buono e scoraggerà anche gli altri. Bisogna chiudere un po' gli occhi e sopravvalutare leggermente se stessi e la propria materia. Non è una cosa tanto difficile: è molto più difficile evitare di rendere ridicoli se stessi e la propria materia tenendo gli occhi troppo chiusi.
Noi scegliamo i nostri amici non perché incarnano tutte le virtù dell'umanità, ma perché sono quello che sono. È la stessa cosa in matematica; una proprietà comune a troppi oggetti difficilmente suscita l'entusiasmo, e le stesse idee diventano indistinte se non possiedono una grande individualità.
If I had a statue on a column in London, would I prefer the columns to be so high that the statue was invisible, or low enough for the features to be recognizable? I would choose the first alternative, Dr Snow, presumably, the second.